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First Minister says EU citizens ‘invaluable’ to Scotland

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today say EU citizens living and working in Scotland make an invaluable contribution to the country’s society, culture and economy.

At an event in Edinburgh to celebrate the positive impact of European Union citizens, she will also announce additional funding for the Stay in Scotland campaign.

The campaign has so far awarded more than £570,000 to provide practical advice, support and information to EU citizens.

Citizen Advice Scotland has been granted an extra £10,000 to expand legal support services for those with more complex cases applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.

JustRight Scotland, a legal centre for justice and human rights, will also a funding boost of £7,000 to develop guidance for EU citizens, explaining their rights to vote and access healthcare, education, housing and benefits.

The First Minister will say: “We are stepping up efforts to support EU citizens and their families through our Stay in Scotland campaign.

“Since the EU referendum, EU citizens have been forced to live with unacceptable levels of uncertainty as to how Brexit will affect their lives, their careers and their families.

“I want to make it clear today that we welcome EU citizens and celebrate the invaluable role they play in building our communities, economy and culture.

“Scotland needs to maintain inward migration to help grow our population and economy which is why everyone who wants to be part of Scotland’s progress is welcome to live, work and study here.”

While Scotland’s population is at a record high of 5.4 million, the increase is solely down to migration.

All of Scotland’s population growth for the next 25 years is projected to come from migration, in contrast to the rest of the UK.

The impact of Brexit is expected to exacerbate the risk of skills gaps and labour shortages, with the end of free movement making it harder for people in the EU to come and work in Scotland.

Derek Mitchell, chief executive officer of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “We have already provided support to over 4,100 people with their applications for the EU Settlement Scheme and in many cases they will have complex issues which need legal support.

“We are delighted to be working collaboratively with other organisations in Scotland to help citizens remain in the UK after we leave the EU by providing free, confidential and impartial legal advice on immigration issues.”

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