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'Scotland's finances stronger than UK'

Thursday 8th March 2012

Scotland continues to be in a stronger budget position than the UK, it is claimed.

Government and Expenditure Revenue Scotland 2010-11 (GERS), published by Scotland's Chief Statistician, shows that, including a geographical share of UK North Sea oil and gas revenues, Scotland contributed 9.6% of UK public sector revenue and received 9.3% of total UK public sector expenditure, including a per capita share of UK debt interest payments. Scotland's population is 8.4% of the UK total.

Including a geographical share of North Sea revenues, Scotland's estimated current budget balance in 2010-11, which is primarily day to day expenditure, was a deficit of £6.4billion, or 4.4% of GDP - stronger than the UK-wide deficit of £97.8billion, or 6.6% of GDP for the same year, which includes 100% of North Sea revenues.

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 7.4% of GDP, compared to 9.2% for the UK as a whole.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "The official figures show that Scotland continues to contribute more to the UK Treasury than we receive in public spending.

"In 2010/11, Scotland generated 9.6% of UK revenues with 8.4% of the population.

"Looking at both sides of the balance sheet, over the five-year period from 2006/7 to 2010/11, Scotland was in a stronger financial position relative to the UK as a whole by a total of £8.6billion - over £1600 for every man, woman and child in Scotland, or over £3600 per household. This underlines the opportunities of independence and financial responsibility.

"Scotland's oil and gas resources - a trillion pound asset base - 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 value still to be extracted. This year the North Sea is forecast to generate £11.1billion in tax revenue - compared to £8.8billion in the 2010-11 GERS figures published today.

"The independence referendum in Autumn 2014 will be an opportunity to ensure that the key economic decisions are taken in Scotland for Scotland, and that we can boost economic growth and invest the proceeds in protecting our public services.

"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. We need the Chancellor to follow our 'Plan MacB' approach and use the upcoming Budget to increase capital investment, enhance economic security, and ensure that businesses have access to finance to create the conditions needed for recovery."

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Mike Jones

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