REDUCING migration to the tens of thousands would cost Scotland’s economy up to £10 billion a year in lost economic growth from 2040, the Scottish Government has said.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop insisted the UK Government’s preferred approach to migration would be “catastrophic” for the country.

She will launch a discussion paper on the issue today, setting out the importance of migration to Scotland – and aiming to build consensus around tackling the issue post-Brexit.

The paper will set out a range of scenarios, and argue that simply ending freedom of movement for EU workers would see growth plummet by £5 billion a year from 2040, a fall of 4.5 per cent. This compares to a UK-wide fall of only 3.7 per cent.

Ms Hyslop said: “Over the next 25 years, Scotland’s working age population will grow by only 1 per cent, compared with an increase of 25 per cent in the pension age population. It is welcome that people are living longer but this underlines the importance of migration to our economy.

“The UK Government’s policy of pursuing a reduction in net migration to only tens of thousands across the whole UK would be catastrophic for Scotland’s economy and do serious damage to our future prosperity, with the potential loss of up to £10 billion of GDP every year after 2040. That cannot be allowed to happen.

“Even a more modest reduction in migration as a result of the end of freedom of movement of workers through leaving the EU would see a £5 billion reduction in real GDP each year after 2040. That is not an acceptable scenario for Scotland.

“While some of these dates and figures may seem a long way off, the decisions the UK Government takes in the next few months on the future of migration policy will have a long term effect that it will be hard to reverse.

“Some sectors of our economy are already finding it harder to secure the workers they need as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

“That makes it all the more important to have the powers to set a tailored migration policy based on the unique needs and circumstances of Scotland, to ensure we protect and enhance future economic growth.”