The Scottish Government’s plan for independence does not face up to the tax rises which would be required to replicate Nordic-style public services, MSPs have been told.
The white paper instead presents a hybrid of two different economic models – low tax and social investment – which do not “fit together very comfortably”, Holyrood’s economy committee heard.
The committee was questioning academics about the implications of replicating the social democratic structures found in countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway during an evidence session as part of its inquiry into Scotland’s economic future post-2014.
Citizens in these countries enjoy stronger trade unions, generous universal services, a greater focus on early education and childcare, and an emphasis on social investment for economic growth and social equality, the committee was told.
The Scottish Government has indicated its ambitions to implement some of these measures under independence, including its plans to greatly expand free childcare.
Asked about tax rises to pay for such policies, Professor Michael Keating, professor of politics at Aberdeen University and director of the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change, said: “Taxes would have to be higher, there’s no doubt about it.
“This is a costly model. The people in Nordic countries are generally willing to pay those taxes, because they appreciate what they get back from it.
“That is something that I don’t see the Scottish Government’s white paper facing up to.”