Scottish Government will oppose any UK plan to charge businesses for employing EU nationals

In response to a parliamentary written question from SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, the Scottish Government has confirmed it will oppose extending the Immigration Skills Charge to EU nationals

THE SCOTTISH Government has confirmed it will oppose any levy that hits employers who employ EU workers.

In response to a written question from the SNP’s Christina McKelvie, the external affairs secretary, Fiona Hyslop, confirmed that the Scottish Government would oppose such a plan.

Home Office minister Robert Goodwill told peers that the UK Government is considering extending the Immigration Skills Charge - which charges £1,000 a year to employers – to migrants from within the EU.

Currently, the UK Government only charges businesses for those employees who come from outside the EEA.

“The Scottish Government remains concerned that the charge will make it more difficult for employers to recruit the individuals they require for their business.” Fiona Hyslop

Fiona Hyslop 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.”

Hyslop also revealed that she had written to the UK skills minsters last July about the impact the Immigration Skills Charge would have, but never received a reply.

CommonSpace asked the UK Government for a comment about the extention of the Immigration Skills Charge, but had not received one at time of publication. 

“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.” Christina McKelvie

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.”

A Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland spokesman said: “The key for small businesses is to be able to hire the right person, with the right skills, at the right time. 

“One in five small employers in the UK employs EU nationals, the majority of whom were already resident here at the time of their employment. Recent comments have raised concerns, but the Home Office has assured us that he was referring to the incoming immigration skills levy for non-EU workers through the Tiered Visa scheme and was not speculating about the future UK immigration system after we leave the EU.

“The Home Office has assured us that he was referring to the incoming immigration skills levy for non-EU workers through the Tiered Visa scheme.” Spokesman from the Federation of Small Business in Scotland

“This issue will, of course, be a major area for discussion in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

“The priority for small businesses is to make sure that current EU Nationals in the UK workforce are given the ‘right to remain’.”

Picture courtesy of Christina McKelvie

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