Official figures showed that Scotland’s budget deficit is higher than any country in the EU
Official figures showed that Scotland’s budget deficit currently stands at 8.3 per cent – worse than any country in Europe.
Nicola Sturgeon, pictured at a laboratory in Edinburgh today, is accused of misleading voters
Pro-union parties claimed the stats prove Scots would be impoverished if the UK ever broke up.
But the SNP denied suggestions that they had misled the public by putting forward a case for independence based on sky-high oil revenues.
Today’s Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland report revealed that Scotland spent £13.3billion more last year than it took in.
That represents 8.3 per cent of the country’s GDP, compared to 2.4 per cent for the deficit of the UK as a whole.
The First Minister insisted that Scotland’s public finances are on the mend
Scotland’s government spends £1,437 more per head of population than the rest of Britain, while getting £312 less per person in revenue.
That means that if Scotland became independent it would have to borrow £1,749 more for every person to avoid having to hike taxes or slash services.
Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tories’ finance spokesman, said: “All of us last year received a Union dividend of £1,750 per head.
“In the first year of independence, Scotland would have been staring at the biggest deficit in Europe.”
Currently the country with the worst deficit in the EU is Spain, which has a 4.5 per cent shortfall in its public finances.
Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories said the case for independence is now in tatters
Scottish government revenues collapsed when the price of oil tumbled a couple of years ago, blowing a hole in the SNP’s economic plans for independence.
In addition, Scotland spends far more on public services than the rest of Britain, with 44.7 per cent of GDP going on the state sector.
Ms Sturgeon hailed the fact that the latest GERS figures were an improvement on last year’s results.
She said: “Scotland’s economy remains strong. In the last quarter, our economy grew nearly four times faster than the UK and the number of people in employment is at a record high.”
Scottish Labour boss Kezia Dugdale said that Scotland would suffer “unprecedented levels of austerity” under independence.
Kezia Dugdale, leader of Scottish Labour, warned of austerity under independence
And Willie Rennie of the Scottish Liberal Democrats added: “Oil revenues have tanked since 2014. The SNP relied on the 2014 numbers for their independence campaign.
“People need to know why they got it so wrong to make sure the same mistakes can’t happen again.”
The SNP tried to discredit the GERS stats – published by an arm of the SNP-run government – in advance of their publication.
In a post on the party’s website they claimed the figures “do not give a picture of the finances of an independent Scotland”.