Wednesday December 4th 2019
Owen Thompson, SNP candidate speaking at the Midlothian Hustings. Photography by Lee Live: Photographer
Reader Nial Stewart writes a letter in response to Tim Rideout’s response to his letter.
Is Tim Rideout (Letter 2nd December) confused, or duplicitous in his attempt to defend Owen Thompson who didn’t mention the government in his claim “Scotland receives less back than is sent to Westminster” at the Midlothian hustings last week?
Tim confirms that for 2019/19 revenue raised was £62.7 Billion, the Scottish Government received £43.2 Billion.
One of the reserved areas for which the Scottish Government isn’t responsible is ‘social protection’, this includes pensions and welfare. Looking at the figures for 2018-19 we can see that £24.1 Billion was spent in Scotland.
Adding just this one reserved spend to the government’s £43.2 Billion, we can see the total £67.3 Billion is more than the £62.7 Billion that Tim stated was raised in revenue here.
The claim that “Scotland receives less back than is sent to Westminster” is patently ridiculous.
The statisticians working for the SNP government say that £75.3 Billion was spent in Scotland or on our behalf in 2018/19, £12.6 Billion more than revenues raised. This isn’t a sign that our economy is doing badly, our revenues are about the UK average, but money is allocated to provide roughly uniform services throughout the UK. As before small hospitals, schools, policing, roads etc in the Highlands and Islands are not cheap to provide.
Tim describes the GERS figures as “Guesstimates”.
The SNP government have been curating their production for the last 10 years and have changed how the figures are compiled. Again, these were the figures that the White Paper described as “The authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances”. One dictionary definition of ‘authoritative’ is “Containing complete and accurate information, and therefore respected”.
Who do we believe?
The question remains, if independence is such a good prospect why can’t its proponents be honest about Scotland’s financial position within the UK and the impact that independence would bring.