Scotland needs more people. Everyone knows this:  businesses need people to fill their vacancies, likewise hospitals and care homes. An ageing population will require more working age citizens to work, pay taxes and support us as we reach retirement.

And immigration contributes positively to our economy and society. The business start-up rate amongst immigrant communities is double the rate in the rest of the population and data from the Federation of Small Businesses shows the positive impact of immigrant-led businesses. New Scots contribute far more to our economy than the share of public services they consume. You are more likely to be treated by a doctor or nurse who is an immigrant than to find yourself in the hospital queue next to one.

The Scottish Government rightly makes much of the fact that Brexit and restrictive UK Government immigration policies have hampered Scotland’s economic potential and calls for devolution of immigration policy. The latest paper published by the Government addresses how Scotland would deliver a humane, dignified and principled immigration policy as an independent country. All very welcome, and a sharp contrast to the "hostile environment" policy that permeates the UK Government approach.

While the number of working-age people moving from the rest of the UK to Scotland exceeds the numbers moving in the other direction - generating a net economic benefit to Scotland and demonstrating Scotland’s inherent attractiveness despite the prevalent narrative - the share of overseas immigrants moving to the UK that find their way to Scotland lags behind. The reasons for that are most likely to do with the fact that immigrants will tend to base themselves close to family and friends for many understandable reasons - language, culture, support networks and economic opportunities. So the parts of the UK with the highest historical immigrant populations will tend to attract, at least initially, more immigrants. As a consequence of this, and an older demographic profile, Scotland’s population challenges are more severe than those across the UK as a whole.

But you need to be careful what you wish for, or at least be prepared for what you will do when you get it. A recent policy announcement has put this disconnect into sharp focus. The UK Home Office has decided to "batch process" a significant number of outstanding asylum claims. The consequences for Scotland’s largest city are that around 2,500 asylum seekers, currently residing in temporary accommodation in Glasgow, paid for by the UK Government, will find themselves requiring to be housed, at least initially, by the local authority. The temporary accommodation they vacate will then most likely be backfilled by more asylum seekers currently residing south of the Border. This is a demographic which, while traumatised in many cases, is also typically of working age, and often with under-utilised skills and a hunger for success. A real asset to our economy once initial settling-in challenges are overcome.

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At one level this, of course, presents an opportunity for Scotland to put into practice the migration aspiration detailed in that latest independence paper. But this is where it crashes into another policy area in the news recently with a number of councils identifying a housing emergency.

The fundamental problem is that not enough houses are being built in Scotland. This manifests itself in rent increases, affordability challenges for first-time buyers and lack of availability of social and mid-market rented properties.

This requires a clarity of focus on policies that will increase that supply across all tenures. Simplifying planning processes and other administrative hurdles, and where necessary providing the resource to rapidly process applications associated with significant developments. Seriously addressing the land reform agenda, including land value and taxation, to bring more land into productive use. Addressing empty and second homes, giving councils full powers to vary relevant taxes and make use of Compulsory Sales Orders.

It also requires utilising modern methods of construction to standardise build processes including maximising the use of offsite construction processes, and tackling construction industry skills challenges.

More borrowing powers could help the Scottish Government to fund more house building in the social rented sector, but much can be done already through local borrowing against future revenue streams and prioritising policy stability, over headline chasing, to give confidence to private sector new build investors.

The bottom line is that all the immigration policy in the world won’t increase Scotland’s population without tackling our housing challenges. And conversely were the housing challenge to be successfully addressed there are no shortage of opportunities for Scotland to attract people - of all backgrounds - from the rest of the UK even in the absence of additional powers. We can take steps now to increase Scotland’s population and further strengthen our economy in preparation for the full powers of independence.

Ivan McKee is an MSP and former Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise