The Scottish Government will oppose any proposals to hit employers with a £1,000-a-year levy on EU workers, it has been confirmed.
Home Office minister Robert Goodwill told peers that the UK Government is considering extending the Immigration Skills Charge, which applies to migrants from outside the EEA, to EU nationals – which could potentially see some sectors hit with a bill worth millions.
In a written answer to a parliamentary question from Christina McKelvie MSP, Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop confirmed that the Scottish Government would oppose such a plan.
Ms Hyslop also revealed that she had written to Minister of State for Skills in July about the impact the Immigration Skills Charge will have on Scotland’s key growth sectors – but never received a reply.
She said: “The Scottish Government remains concerned that the charge will make it more difficult for employers to recruit the individuals they require for their business.
“The suggestion from the UK Government that the charge should be extended to cover EU citizens working here sends entirely the wrong signal – especially given the ongoing uncertainty caused by UK Ministers’ failure to guarantee the residency rights of EU nationals – and any such move would be opposed by the Scottish Government.”
Commenting, SNP MSP Christina McKelvie said:
“Scottish businesses already face the uncertainty of being dragged out of the single market, with all the damage that would cause to jobs and household incomes.
“It beggars belief that Tory ministers are now speculating about new ways to hit our employers – with this plan putting vital sectors such as tourism, higher education and fish processing directly in the firing line.
“The Tories’ lurch to the right, pandering to the UKIP agenda and the extreme wing of their party, continues at an alarming rate. Ruth Davidson must distance herself from these plans and make the case to her Westminster bosses that Scotland’s economy cannot be allowed to suffer because of a Tory hard Brexit.”
You can find a copy of Chritina's question below:
Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse) (Scottish National Party):To ask the Scottish Government what assessment it plans of what the impact would be on Scotland’s economy of the proposal by the UK Government to levy firms in specific industries £1,000 a year for each EU worker that they hire.
The Immigration Skills Charge, as introduced by the UK Immigration Act 2016, will be paid by employers sponsoring skilled migrants from outside the EEA under Tier 2 of the UK Points Based System. The charge will be introduced in April 2017 and will be collected by the Home Office as part of the Certificate of Sponsorship application process.
The Scottish Government remains concerned that the charge will make it more difficult for employers to recruit the individuals they require for their business. The suggestion from the UK Government that the charge should be extended to cover EU citizens working here sends entirely the wrong signal – especially given the ongoing uncertainty caused by UK Ministers’ failure to guarantee the residency rights of EU nationals – and any such move would be opposed by the Scottish Government.
The charge constitutes an additional bureaucratic and financial burden on Scottish businesses, and our employers should not be penalised for employing the skilled staff that they need. Given the nature of Scotland’s private sector being heavily made up of smaller establishments, the financial impact of the charge on smaller businesses may be felt more acutely in Scotland.
I wrote to the Minister of State for Skills in July 2016 asking about the impact that this new charge will have in Scotland, and specifically on Scotland’s seven key growth sectors. No reply has been received.