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Parliamentary Debates and Questions

S5W-06166: Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 13 January 2017

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.

Answered by: Fiona Hyslop 24 January 2017

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.