By Martin Kelly

Newly published figures have revealed that Scots would be better off by over £800 per year if the country was independent.

The Scottish National Party has welcomed the publication of the latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report which shows that Scotland is financially stronger than the UK as a whole to the tune of £4.4 billion, or £824 per person.

Covering 2011/12, the report showed that Scotland generated 9.9 per cent of UK tax revenues despite having only 8.4 per cent of the UK population.  According to the report, Scotland received only 9.3 per cent of spending – a shortfall of 0.6 per cent on the country’s contribution.

The report also revealed that Scotland ran a deficit of £3.4bn - which is 2.3% of Gross Domestic Product, whilst the UK’s deficit of £92.3bn was over two and a half times higher at 6.0% of GDP.

In considering the overall net fiscal balance for Scotland - which includes infrastructure investment to yield long term benefits - Scotland was again in a stronger position than the UK: a deficit of 5.0 per cent of GDP, compared to 7.9 per cent for the UK as a whole.

Finance committee convener SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said:

“These are a powerful set of figures, which prove beyond any and all doubt that Scotland more than pays her way.  The reality is that Scotland subsidises the rest of the UK – not the other way round – and also has better finances than other developed economies.

“The report shows that Scotland’s finances are stronger than the UK’s as a whole to the tune of £4.4 billion – or £824 for every man, woman and child.”

Mr Gibson said the figures gave a “big boost” to the Yes campaign and added:

“While the No campaign tries to talk Scotland down – and bizarrely argues that having access to billions of pounds of oil tax revenues is somehow a bad thing for Scotland but a good thing for Westminster – these figures give a big boost to confidence in Scotland, and to a 'Yes' vote in the referendum.

“Instead of Westminster wasting billions on unwanted Trident nuclear weapons, an independent Scotland with access to our nation’s wealth of resources can and will build a strong economy and fair society.”

Over the period 2007-08 to 2011-12 as a whole Scotland’s net fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP, including an illustrative geographical share of North Sea revenue, has on average been lower than the equivalent UK figure.  When expressed in cash terms, this relative difference is equivalent to £12.6 billion over the five-year period.

Unionists however attempted to pour cold water on claims the figures supported arguments for independence.

Labour MSP Ken Macintosh said the Gers figures showed the reverse.

"Once again these figures show the benefit to all Scots of remaining part of the UK.

“We do not simply have a shared economy but also shared services, a shared pensions system and our largest trading partner is the rest of the UK. Our future is all the more secure because we share so much.

“The GERS figures reveal the folly of giving up on that shared stability for an uncertain economic future based on the unpredictable and declining resource of oil and gas.”

The Scottish Labour MP said an independent Scotland could not rely on an oil and gas sector that was “unsustainable” and “being depleted” and added:

"Rather than the SNP talking about how much they could do in 2016, post separation, they should be explaining why they have utterly failed to use the powers and revenues they have at present to help the Scottish economy out of the economic doldrums.

"The SNP need to talk about how they will plan to grow our economy now and until the next Holyrood elections.  Instead, everything they do is focused upon the referendum.  It is a distraction which has left the SNP unable or unwilling to do the best for Scotland now."

Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: "Even with a geographical share of North Sea oil revenue, Scotland would be facing a huge deficit of more than £7 billion. This is a substantial gap and the SNP must start to explain how it plans to plug the gap under separation if oil revenues turn out to be lower than this year.

"Money brought in from oil is predicted to decrease from 2016 onwards and, as the SNP admits, is extremely volatile."

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "Even in the good years we're running a deficit of £7.6 billion. What would it be when the oil revenues drop?"

BBC Scotland downplayed the contrasts with the UK and instead highlighted the deficit.  News presenters on Newsdrive described the GERS report as showing “Scotland spent more than it raised last year”.

MEANWHILE, the Fraser of Allander Institute has downgraded its prediction for the Scottish economy.  The think tank has now estimated that the Scottish economy will grow by just under 1 per cent next year.

However the same body issued a similar downgrade last November when it predicted the Scottish economy would shrink by 0.1 per cent in 2012, official figures last month showed that the Scottish economy in fact grew by 0.4%.


# clootie 2013-03-06 18:47
The BBC have managed to turn this into bad news. However Micky Moore has the answer - we keep sending the funds to Westminster and they will give back a lot of it as pocket money for a small handling charge.

Meanwhile "Scottish" Labour have put out a party political broadcast pretending that policies are made up here and not in London aimed at middle England.

Compare all of this to Wales - no more power because we don't have to give you any - this is what a NO vote will bring to Scotland.
# X_Sticks 2013-03-06 19:47
Have the bbc managed to turn this into good news though?

"Scottish independence: Union goes with grain of history, says Tony Blair"

Aye Tony, that's a grain of salt. In fact so much salt it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. I never thought I'd "dislike" any politician more than Margaret Thatcher, but you managed to achieve that honour. You should be tried for war crimes in my book. Over 100,000 people dead in Iraq. Peace Envoy? Ha! I really don't know how you live with your conscience.

"Mr Blair also warned against "retreating into something smaller"."

I see it more as escaping from a greed based capitalist controlled un-democracy run by westminster and the likes of you.

Independence 2014.
# Barbazenzero 2013-03-06 20:40
Marginally more interesting than Bliar is the BBC's Welsh devolution: UK government rejects radical change with nuggets to ponder upon like:
The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition also suggests responsibility for policing, broadcasting and large energy projects should be retained at Westminster.

Its submission to the second part of the Silk Commission looking at the scope of the assembly's powers says arrangements are largely satisfactory.

But it says teachers' pay and rail franchising could be devolved.

All the 50%+ of Scots who wanted Devo-Max before Westminster rejected a second question out of hand should be pointed at that article and asked whether they still think more devolution likely following a No vote.

For Wales, at least, the yellow tories seem to have entirely forgotten about federalism and, of course, neither blue nor red tories ever countenanced it.
# Kinloch 2013-03-07 10:24
Totally agree with the Thatcher sentiment here. As for peace envoy well that just proves what a huge crock it all is really, take a look at how Tones Windrush group of companies earns it's millions advising dodgy dictators with appalling human rights records. Hypocrisy? I should say so. And lets not start on the millions pulled in by human rights champion Cherie.
# jinglyjangly 2013-03-06 19:03
Does anybody know how much we got charged for Trident, Foreign Bases,
Posh Embassies, et all, and did the income attributed to Scotland include
all income taxes raised in Scotland including taxes paid to Companies registered outside Scotland but having
bases in Scotland, Corporation Taxes.
Vat, Road Tax, Fuel Duty Alcohal duties etc etc.
How much did we pay for the English/Welsh Court System and how much did we pay for upkeep of the Royal Family, house of lords, commons etc Add all those and many many other taxes up and Im confident that their would be no deficit
and this is o/t but is the queen libel
for Bedroom Tax?
# Macart 2013-03-06 19:59
Let's not forget monies saved by abolishing abominations such as PFIs, our share of UK wide infrastructure projects (no more M25s or HSLs), retention of airport duties, control of crown estate revenues. Oh the list is endless. I think we could put a fair old dent in the £7bn.

Bear in mind this is before any revenue building policy is introduced. This is merely savings on current Westminster expenditure. Well the opposition did ask. :)
# Rafiki 2013-03-06 19:40
Somewhat irate at BBC in Scotland via Douglas Fraser and a happy Jackie telling us we are still too wee, too poor,and hinting that we are too stupid to see through the misreporting, as they turn good news for Scotland into bad news.
# balbeggie 2013-03-06 20:06
A good graphic about the latest GERS figures:
# call me dave 2013-03-06 21:38
My neighbour says

"See your wages, give them to me as I can manage your money better than you and I'll give you a bit of pocket money"
How's that?

Aye right!
The Westminster government argued the "extremely volatile" nature of oil prices meant they were far better managed in a UK-wide context.

Roll on 2014.
# hetty 2013-03-06 21:47
and...who owns Scotland? Aka Andy Wightman's books and indepth research. What about the land and castles owned by the royals and such people? I bet the SNP are seething about the bedroom tax, and would defo abolish the whole idea if they could, lets just see what happens there, some major support for vulnerable people affected by such draconian swipes at the hands of the westminster(wes tmonsters) can't come too soon though.
# robert de brus 2013-03-06 22:00
Thought John Swinney gave an admirable response to this interview.
# weegie38 2013-03-06 22:50
God yeah, those volatile oil prices, eh? How on earth could a smallish nation of 4-5 million people on the norther edge of Europe cope with them?

Oh, that's right, by continually having the the highest Human Development Index ratings in the world, as this BBC report shows:

I loved this line in particular:

Norway's consistently high rating for desirable living standards, is, in large part, the result of the discovery of offshore oil and gas deposits in the late 1960s.
# From The Suburbs 2013-03-06 23:23
Just watched Newsnight Scotland where Gordon Brewer interrupted Derek Mackay every time he mentioned the FACTUAL GERS findings that Scots would be £800 better off with independence and gleefully harped on about a leaked discussion document which outlined numerous possible HYPOTHETICAL scenarios and has been seized on by the Unionist press with anti independence banner headlines tomorrow.
# Mad Jock McMad 2013-03-06 23:58
The writing for the Better Together campaign is on the wall:

'Mene, mene tekhel uphrasin'.

Not so much Belshazzar's but Bellend's Feast.
# Blanco 2013-03-07 08:36
Look at better together's argument a different way to see how ridiculous it is. Imagine if oil revenues made up say 10% of Westminster income rather than 1%. Would they sweat at night worrying that such a large income was volatile and would be better handled on their behalf by the USA? Would they coco!
# Breeks 2013-03-07 10:14
Essentially, there is a point here. If oil is a feature of our economy, it is going to be volatile, - but it's still a fantastic resource to have.

The difference is the Scottish Government have plans to reduce our exposure to the volatility of oil prices by investing sensibly in an oil fund, and diversifying into renewables, and manufacturing - to whatever extent it can. When the oil runs out, we'll be ready for it and prepared, hopefully blessed with healthy and indefinite proceeds from our own oil fund.

All Westminster has planned for our oil is more of the same plunder of the last 40 years, squandered paying the bills for Westminster's opulent lifestyle.

Why don't we have an oil fund like Norway? Westminster squandered the revenue instead.

Why might we now struggle to build an oil fund? Paying for Westminster's debt.

Management from Westminster makes a 'volatile' economy sound mightily attractive and much safer option.
# Leader of the Pack 2013-03-07 12:31
The case Westminster is trying so hard to present with regards to international volitility of everything that makes a nation tick is the fantasy that uniquely to Scotland volitility will ALWAYS be adverse and NEVER beneficial! Scotland uniquely will never be able to benefit from any national asset under any International condition be it fair weather or foul! Only within Westminsters grasp can Scotland be steared through the thick and thin with it own assets managed by them. And they still deny the accusation that they are telling us we are too wee too poor and too stupid to manage on our own. They tell us they believe we are capable but nothing can be done which is beneficial without it being done via Westminster!
And they do it in the face of all the contradictory evidence smashing them full in the face! Thats the power of a state run unregulated media.

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