Scotland's budget gap falls, Sturgeon warns of Brexit danger

25 Août, 2018, 16:01 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Nicola Sturgeon said the figures were on the right trajectory
Credit
PA

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said the latest data showed the Scottish economy was emerging from its doldrums.

Data showed that Scotland's net fiscal deficit shrank to 13.4 billion pounds ($17.1 billion) in the 2017/18 tax year from 14.5 billion pounds the year before, helped by stronger North Sea oil and gas revenues.

Scottish public spending is "more than fair", Nicola Sturgeon insisted, after latest figures showed that taxpayers north of the border receive a record £1,576 per head more than the United Kingdom average.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, Sturgeon is backing another referendum on Brexit, which was opposed by most voters in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon has rejected claims Scotland is "subsidised" by the UK.

As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), the deficit fell to 7.9 percent from 8.9 percent - the lowest since 2011/12 but far higher than in the United Kingdom as a whole, where public sector net borrowing was 1.9 percent of GDP in 2017/18.

Mike Tholen of Oil & Gas said the increase in Scotland's geographical share of North Sea receipts from £266m to £1.33bn showed a "striking transformation" since the price downturn.

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However she brushed aside questions on why the growth commission report's controversial proposals for cutting the deficit, which the Institute for Fiscal Studies said would increase and extend austerity in Scotland, was not being debated at the SNP's annual conference in early October.

Struan Stevenson, chief executive of the anti-independence referendum group Scottish Business UK said: "The release of the GERS figures are our yearly reminder, if one were required, that the financial implications of Scottish independence would be devastating to businesses and families across Scotland". She said it was being discussed at party meetings.

Ms Sturgeon added: "I think if you look over the piece and the contribution of Scottish tax revenues onshore and offshore to the UK Treasury over a period of years, I think probably you have to conclude that it is perhaps more than fair".

Scotland's share of North Sea revenues soared by more than £1 billion a year ago - but the nation's deficit level was still four times higher than that of the UK.

"People across Scotland are sick and exhausted of austerity - and these figures show that the SNP's plans for independence would mean unprecedented levels of austerity for Scotland".

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tories finance spokesman, said the Gers figures underlined the importance to Scotland of the "union dividend". Only tax rises or vast reductions in public spending can plug this gap - both are unpalatable to the Scottish people.

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