Independent Scotland would need 500,000 immigrants to balance workers and pensioners, says Treasury

 

Scotland needs almost 500,000 migrants over the next 20 years to achieve the same balance of pensioners and working-age adults as the UK, according to the Treasury.

The increase would be the equivalent of adding another Edinburgh to Scotland's population, the UK Government department said.

The ageing population and the implications on levels of migration is one of five key areas considered in the Treasury's latest analysis assessing an independent Scotland's fiscal position between 2016 - the first year of independence - and 2035/36.

Scotland's population is projected to age more rapidly in the future compared with the UK as a whole.

The Treasury has considered the levels of net annual migration which would be required in an independent Scotland in order for it to achieve a "dependency ratio" equivalent to that projected for the UK over the next two decades.

The dependency ratio is the number of people who are predominantly receiving from the state - pensioners - versus the number of people who are paying most of the taxes into the state - working-age adults.

Using Office for National Statistics data, the Treasury has calculated that Scotland would have to treble its rate of net annual migration under independence to match UK demographics.

As part of the UK, net annual migration to Scotland of 7,000 is assumed but this would have to increase to 24,000 under independence to achieve the same dependency ratio, it said.

"We assume that Scotland would have higher migration as an independent country than it would have within the UK, because that's what the Scottish Government have said and we want to take that into account, but you still see more of a demographic challenge," the Treasury said.

"To get the demographics simply to match the UK, Scotland would have to go up to the 'high migration scenario', which is 24,000 people a year net, so that's more than tripling in migration relative to Scotland within the UK.

"Over the 20-year period that we looked at that would basically be the equivalent of adding the population of Edinburgh to the Scottish population.

"So that would be a very substantial change in Scotland's demographics needed simply to keep this dependency ratio online.

"All of this challenge is simply smoothed away within the union and borne across the population as a whole."

The Scottish Government has already indicated in its White Paper on independence that it plans to adopt different immigration policies to those of the UK to meet Scotland's needs, including boosting its working-age population.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: "Migrant workers play a vital role in Scotland's economy and many of our successful businesses would not be able to cope without them.

"But under the SNP's hare-brained separation plans, we would need an open-door approach just to have a fighting chance of balancing the books.

"That would require a different immigration policy to the rest of the UK, which would without question mean border controls were an absolute necessity."

Scottish Labour's pensions spokesman Gregg McClymont said: "Pooling and sharing our resources across the whole of the UK means pensions are more affordable in Scotland. Only separation puts the pensions of Scots at risk.

"The nationalists tell us they will plug the pensions gap in a separate Scotland by increasing immigration but have failed to set out any plan."

General Register Office for Scotland figures show that between 2003/04 and 2010/11, Scotland saw net annual migration gains of at least 18,600 per year.

In 2010/11 the net migration gain was 30,200, however it fell to 12,700 in 2011/12.

A spokesman for Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "Net migration to Scotland is already more than 10,000 a year and independence will allow us to have a flexible policy to suit our economic needs, unlike UK immigration policy which is harming Scotland and which has just this week been condemned by one of Scotland's leading university principals as 'trying its best to destroy a global brand'.

"It is deeply revealing, but not surprising, that the Treasury's main attack on independence plays the immigration card, as the Westminster establishment panders to a Ukip agenda."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'