Major black hole

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In March, we learned from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that the SNP’s plans for full fiscal autonomy would cost Scotland £7.6 billion. The SNP dismissed this by claiming that the IFS analysis offered only a snapshot of Scotland’s position as it was based on one year of data.

The IFS has now extended its analysis to 2020 (your report, 22 April). This analysis demonstrated that the shortfall will grow from £7.6bn to £10bn – a total of £42.9bn over five years.

The Conservatives plan £30bn of cuts across the whole of the UK over the same five-year period, £2.8bn of which will fall in Scotland. The IFS said Labour need to cut UK spending by £6bn if the party chooses to balance the budget within three years, and that no cuts may be required in Scotland if it aims for five years. It is therefore clear that the plan offered by the SNP is by far the greatest risk to public services in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon’s response to this is to label the IFS report as “scaremongering” and to point out that Scotland could grow its way out of the blackhole.

The IFS had anticipated that response – their analysis shows that 5 per cent growth per year would be needed for the SNP to balance the books. This is double the current UK growth rate and four times the European Union rate. If achieving 5 per cent growth year-on-year was so easy, I am sure other countries would be doing it.

Scott Arthur (DR)

Buckstone Gardens

Edinburgh