Independence: ‘Scots subsidising English by £30bn’

SCOTLAND’S education system is “subsidising” the English economy by £30 billion a year through Scots moving south, according to a pro-independence group.
Gordon Wilson leads the Options for Scotland pro-independence group. Picture: Johnston PressGordon Wilson leads the Options for Scotland pro-independence group. Picture: Johnston Press
Gordon Wilson leads the Options for Scotland pro-independence group. Picture: Johnston Press

Options for Scotland, led by former SNP leader Gordon Wilson, has called for control over tax and immigration to encourage families to stay and have children and foreigners to settle in Scotland.

Tax breaks, family support grants and help with pre and post school childcare “are essential to keep families from quitting the country”, according to an Options for Scotland report on emigration.

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Current UK Government immigration policies “run counter to Scotland’s needs”, it said.

Emigration in the 20th century was “disastrous” for Scotland with the loss of two million in a nation of only five million, it added.

Over the next 50 years the Scottish population is predicted to grow by 4.4 per cent, with a higher proportion of old people, against 22.8 per cent growth in the rest of the UK.

Mr Wilson said: “The message is stark. Without children, the nation dies. No country can continue with the economic debilitation which loss of population on a huge scale causes. It is a continual bloodletting that weakens the body.

“This illustrates the need for Scotland to take control of its own economy to ensure that population growth in an independent Scotland has a key priority, which under Westminster it has not.

“There must be greater incentives and support for childbearing families. Given the high costs of rearing children and the huge impact of expensive pre-school childcare, the state must offer tax breaks, family support grants, extensive pre-school education and post school classes and care beyond normal school hours so that both parents can work and be economically productive.

“Many grandparents would willingly allow some of their side benefits to be taxable provided the money was hypothecated to children. If the most ambitious or creative people leave, then it becomes progressively more difficult to facilitate the recovery of an economy.”

Report co-author Nick Dekker, a civil engineer, said: “Few people living in Scotland realise that the cost of educating children who leave comes out of their wallet or purse. It is a subsidy by them to some other country whether it is England, Canada, Australia, New Zealand. And apart from Poland, there is very little corresponding benefit we get back.

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“We estimate that the subsidy to England alone for education of Scots migrating to England is around £30 billion net.

“If other social and medical costs of childrearing are added, the subsidy is much more. Scotland cannot remain as a reservoir of talent for other economies and societies without descending into decline.

“Of course, many talented Scots will continue to see the world as their oyster, and good luck to them.

“It is the scale of the current loss from enforced emigration that is Scotland’s problem. This is also why we shall need to attract talent from abroad through intelligent immigration policies.”