The Scottish Liberal Democrat conference has today backed plans to revamp the immigration system, by making it more welcoming and accessible, and to force the UK Government to explicitly recognise the value of EU workers to British businesses, public services and culture.
Among the proposals, the conference demanded
- The UK Government prepare a comprehensive statement on the benefits of overseas workers to the UK in terms of tax revenue, contribution to economic growth and role in essential public services, notably the NHS;
- UK ministers abandon their arbitrary immigration cap;
- The UK Government make it easier for qualified staff from overseas to take up hard-to-fill posts in the NHS;
- The Scottish Government continue to give EU citizens a vote in Scottish elections to make them feel welcome.
The Lib Dems have been tirelessly making the positive case for immigration and the significant contribution a diverse workforce makes to the economy. Each EU citizen working in Scotland contributes over £10,000 in taxes and an additional £34,000 in GDP.
Liberal Democrat Scottish Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“Its fantastic that conference has endorsed the positive case for immigration that Liberal Democrats believe is vital to our economic future as we face the threat of losing freedom of movement in the EU.
"This is the time for the national debate on the benefits of immigration that our party has been calling for, and to highlight the positive influence it can have, enriching life in our communities over and above economic factors.
"Now, more than ever, we’re in dire need of skills and creativity if we are to combat the SNP's sluggish economic growth and plug the gaps in the NHS and social care as the Tory's disastrous Brexit drives EU nationals out of the workforce.
“The Liberal Democrats are the voice of the majorities in Scotland, pro-UK, pro-EU and proud to praise what those from the EU and beyond have brought to our country.
"Unlike Labour or the Conservatives, we will continue to make the positive case for the benefits of immigration.”
The complete text of the motion can be found below:
SC4: The Benefits of Immigration
- The analysis produced by the Scottish Government’s chief economist in January 2018 which spelt out the benefits to the Scottish economy of EU migration.
- That each additional EU citizen working in Scotland pays on average £10,400 in taxes and contribute £34,400 to GDP every year.
Conference believes that:
- Immigration has a positive benefit to communities in the UK.
- Immigration and freedom of movement within the EU enriches life in our country, beyond any economic benefit.
- Workers from overseas pay more in tax than they receive in benefits and fill important gaps in the workforce.
- The ageing population in the UK makes it essential for a fresh welcome to be given to citizens from the rest of the EU, and from outside the EU, to settle here and be part of a positive and long-term future.
Conference calls for:
- The UK Government to prepare a full and accessible statement on the benefits of workers from overseas in terms of tax revenues, their contribution to economic growth, and the number of highly qualified posts in the NHS and other essential services that they fill.
- The UK Government to abandon its arbitrary immigration cap, in line with the recommendation of the Home Affairs Committee, given it has undermined confidence in the immigration system, and made it hard for students and skilled workers to come to the UK.
- The UK Government to change its visa requirements to make it easier for qualified staff from overseas to take up hard-to fill vacancies in the NHS across the UK, including making sure potential NHS workers are not shut out by excessive minimum salary requirements or additional charges for accessing the NHS.
- The Scottish Government to continue to give a welcome to overseas workers by continuing to allow EU citizens to vote in elections in Scotland.