Australian-style immigration points system must be ‘tailored’ for Scotland

Australian-style immigration points system must be 'tailored' for Scotland

Ben Macpherson

The introduction of an Australian-style points-based immigration system in the UK must recognise Scotland’s unique needs, the Scottish government has said.

The call comes in the Scottish government’s official response to a call for evidence from the UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) which is evaluating a points-based immigration system.

While Scotland’s population is at a record high of 5.4 million, the increase is solely down to migration because the number of deaths exceeds births.

And all of Scotland’s population growth for the next 25 years is projected to come from migration – in contrast to the rest of the UK where demographic pressures are less pronounced.

Migration minister Ben Macpherson said: “The evidence clearly illustrates Scotland’s demographic challenges where the age structure of our population is more imbalanced than in the rest of the UK. The number of people in Scotland who are living longer is growing, which is of course a good thing, but we also need to grow our working age population and that requires inward migration.

“If left unchecked, our demographic challenges will have a serious impact on communities and will increase the risk of skills gaps and labour shortages in key sectors. The impact of Brexit will only exacerbate these challenges as it will be harder for people in the EU to come and work in Scotland.

“Demographic pressures require a different policy response in Scotland to ensure we have an immigration system that enables our economy and our public services to recruit the individuals they need, allows our communities to prosper and is fair and transparent to individuals and employers.

“Any move by the UK government to create an Australian-style points-based immigration system must include a commitment to a tailored approach to migration policy for Scotland.”

Mr Macpherson added: “The Australian immigration system delivers tailored migration policies for different parts of Australia. Similarly, Scotland requires new means and powers to be able to attract, recruit and welcome people to our country based on our needs, values and aspirations.”

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