Our report shows EU migrants in Scotland at risk of poverty and social security system "stacked against them"
A major report commissioned by Scottish Green MSPs shows that people from Central and Eastern Europe who choose to live and work in Scotland are at risk of poverty due to low wages and a social security system "stacked against them".
It comes as Scottish Ministers admit that they have not specifically recruited migrants for their Experience Panels to help shape the new Scottish social security system, something the Greens describe as a "missed opportunity” to reject the UK Government's “backward attitude".
The report for the Green MSPs, from the Social Support and Migration in Scotland project at Glasgow University, notes:
-Welfare was not a key factor in economic migrants' decision to relocate to the UK but rather they chose to move for better employment and higher wages.
-Migrants lack welfare information and face barriers including complex paperwork and jargon.
-The opening hours of council and charity services do not fit with modern work patterns.
-Migrants report their documents repeatedly getting lost in the social security system.
-They report changes in benefits rules and entitlements, with a lack of consistent approach from authorities.
-They report waiting up to six months to get payments.
Patrick Harvie MSP, Economy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
"The creation of a Scottish social security system is a chance to improve everyone's experience of a vital economic safety net. Migrants make a huge contribution to Scotland's public services and businesses yet our report shows many are in need of financial support and are let down by lack of information, unnecessary bureaucracy and inconsistent rules.
"Scottish Ministers are right to condemn the UK Government's backward attitude to both social security and migrants, so it's disappointing that they have missed an opportunity to listen to migrant voices to shape the new devolved social security system.
"Our report also underlines the need to raise wages, and there is clearly a role for the Scottish Government in encouraging better paid jobs in lasting industries, and withdrawing support from businesses and sectors that exploit migrant workers."
The report – Experiences of Welfare within Glasgow’s Central and East European (CEE) Community – draws on a 5-year project conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow, and can be downloaded here