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Freedom of Movement Essential to Sustaining Scotland’s Economy

SCDI has called on the UK Government to provide urgent clarity on a permanent post-Brexit immigration policy and certainty on freedom of movement for EU nationals – protecting Scotland’s labour market from net migration and sustaining the Scottish economy.

In its response to the Scottish Parliament Culture, Tourism, Europe & External Relations Committee Immigration Inquiry, SCDI has called for immediate reassurances to be provided to Scottish businesses on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and for a framework to be implemented which mitigates against a potential vacuum of labour exiting the UK.

Mark Bevan, SCDI Chief Executive, commented: “Scotland is heavily reliant upon a workforce that originates from other EU countries. Many sectors, from banking and finance, to hospitality and manufacturing, are supported by this labour supply. These workers all play a significant role in shaping and supporting Scotland’s economy and it is vital that is protected in any Brexit deal agreed.

“With one in 20 workers in Scotland born in other EU countries, employers urgently need certainty and clarity. Certainty that their current, and future, labour supply is protected. Clarity that the UK Government will be proposing a post-Brexit immigration policy that will continue to support sustainable economic growth in Scotland.

“Recent figures have revealed that the EU Referendum outcome could be directly encouraging EU citizens to migrate out of the UK. Whilst the Home Secretary has tried to assure us that there will not be a ‘cliff edge’ for employers or EU nationals in the UK, we are certainly at a crossroads. The UK Government must provide enough information to ensure we can continue to deliver ongoing economic prosperity.”

Fraser Grieve, SCDI Highlands & Islands Director, added: “The single pan-UK approach to immigration cannot continue post Brexit if we are to safeguard the economic vitality of Scotland. Areas such as the Highlands and Islands have a very low level of unemployment as things stand and many sectors from food and drink to tourism and hospitality rely heavily on a migrant workforce with an insufficient local population to plug any gap that may be left as a result of tighter immigration.

“Scotland’s rural economy is an area SCDI will be looking at in detail and we hope our governments will recognise the differing challenges and opportunities different parts of the country face and take steps to ensure that businesses have access to the workforce they need.”