Scottish Government Report on Immigration is Shockingly Misleading

February 19, 2018

A Scottish Government report claiming that tighter controls on Migration would lead to a “cost” to the Scottish economy of up to £10 billion per year from 2040 relies on highly dubious assumptions.

That is the conclusion of a paper issued today by Migration Watch UK.

The paper identifies a list of weaknesses in the report:

  • It evades the point that this is not a cost at all – it is the difference between scenarios extended over more than twenty years all of which see growth in GDP.
  • These scenarios make the unlikely assumption that each migrant will always have the same economic characteristics as a Scot of the same age and would make the same contribution from day one.
  • It ignores the key fact that immigration controls after Brexit would be designed to reduce low skilled and low paid migration - those migrants who make the lowest contribution.
  • It downplays the central point that GDP per head matters more than total GDP. There is no evidence for the UK that immigration does increase GDP per person to any significant degree.
  • It claims to be accurate to a few percentage points in 22 years time.
  • It claims that all of the projected increase in population over the next twenty five years will be due to migration but underplays the fact that a large slice of this inward migration will be from the UK itself and will therefore be unaffected by immigration policy.
  • It proposes a separate Scottish immigration system on the lines of Canada or Australia without acknowledging the very great differences in their circumstances.
  • In this latter regard it ignores the difficulties that these two countries have faced. They find that they are dependent on the migrants’ stated intentions and on the employers’ cooperation and have proved difficult to monitor and enforce.

Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK said:

This Scottish Government report is woefully misleading. The economic contribution of migrant workers depends on their skills and their salaries. Post Brexit restrictions on immigration are likely to be focused on those going into lower skilled roles and will thus have little effect on GDP. Indeed they might increase GDP per head. The majority of Scots, 63% wish to see the current scale of immigration reduced and they are absolutely right.

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