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Scotland’s finances ‘stronger than UK’

06/03/2013

Scotland continues to be in a relatively stronger budget position than the UK as a whole to the value of £824 per person or £4.4 billion as a nation, according to National Statistics published today.

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2011-12 (GERS) report, which sets out actual levels of tax and spending, shows that including a geographical share of UK North Sea oil and gas revenues, Scotland contributes a greater share of public sector revenues than it receives in UK public spending.  The official statistics show Scotland contributed 9.9% of all UK revenues in 2011-12 but received only 9.3 per cent of total UK public sector expenditure, including a per capita share of UK debt interest payments.  Scotland’s population is 8.4 per cent of the UK total.

The figures also show Scotland has significantly lower deficit levels than the UK.  For 2011-12 the UK has a current budget deficit of 6 per cent of GDP or £92.3 bn.  Including a geographical share of North Sea revenues, Scotland’s current budget deficit would be £3.4bn or only 2.3 per cent 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.

Commenting on the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2011-12, Finance Secretary John Swinney said:

“Scotland’s referendum in Autumn 2014 is an opportunity to ensure that key economic decisions are taken in Scotland for Scotland, and that we can boost economic growth to invest in the country’s future.

“These official figures show that Scotland continues to contribute proportionately more to the UK Treasury than we receive in public spending.

“In 2011/12, Scotland generated 9.9 per cent of UK revenues with 8.4 per cent of the population while only receiving 9.3 per cent of UK public spending back from the UK Government. This demonstrates beyond any doubt that Scotland more than pays her way in the UK.

“Over the last year our stronger fiscal position, would have seen Scotland better off to the tune of £824 per person, or £4.4 billion in total.

“And over the last five years Scotland has been in a stronger financial position relative to the UK as a whole by a total of £12.6 billion.  If Scotland had full control of our finances we could have invested in jobs and infrastructure, reduced Scotland’s share of the deficit, invested in stability fund or directly support households. This underlines the opportunities independence can deliver for the whole of Scotland to pursue a different path to the UK.

“Scotland’s oil and gas resources, which have a wholesale value of up to £1.5 trillion pounds - are worth more than 10 times Scotland’s share of a UK debt built up by successive Westminster governments. 

“And we know that North Sea revenues remain substantial, with more than half the wholesale value still to be extracted, and a second oil boom underway.

"With responsibility for our own finances and our own vast natural resources, we will be able to make choices in our own best interests.  With independence, we would control the fiscal levers we need to suit our own economic circumstances, and maximise Scotland's potential to secure new investment and jobs.

"The referendum will be a chance for Scotland to choose a new, better path.  In the meantime, we are doing all we can with the powers we currently have to boost the economy and support jobs - and to get the economy moving again.” 

Related information

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.