SCOTLAND has fewer children living in jobless households than any other part of the UK, new figures show.
Just 12 per cent of youngsters are in homes reliant on benefits, compared to 13.6 per cent in England, 14.4 per cent in Wales, and 16.7 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Scotland also produced 8 per cent of the UK’s economic output in 2011, and its productivity was equal to the UK average, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) analysis published yesterday found.
The ONS also highlighted Scotland had a lower unemployment rate, at 7.2 per cent, than England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in April to June.
Since then, Scotland’s unemployment rate has risen, but only slightly, to 7.3 per cent in June to August.
The figures are encouraging for the Scottish Government a year from the independence referendum, analysts say.
The ONS also found Scots’ median gross weekly earnings were £498 among full-time, working-age adults, higher than Northern Ireland on £460, and Wales on £455, but slightly lower than England on £513.
Scots also have less disposable household income than the UK average – £15,700 per head in 2011, compared with £16,000.
John McLaren, economist with the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR), said Scotland’s downturn and slow recovery has mirrored the UK’s, a trend which continues.
“That’s not too surprising as their industrial make-up is not dissimilar,” he added.
“The better parts of the UK have been the Southeast and Southwest – not London. Outside of that, Scotland really stands out. It does much better than Northern Ireland, the Northeast and Wales.”
Mr McLaren said the figures provided a platform for a potential independent Scotland, but warned oil revenue remained hard to predict.
“As long as nothing scares the horses, post-independence it [Scotland’s economy] would remain in pretty good shape, the same as the UK,” he said.
“Whether it’s employment rate or GDP growth rate, there’s nothing to think that it would dramatically worsen or improve.”
But he added: “The big difference between Scotland and the UK, if Scotland became independent, would be North Sea oil.
“If Scotland is to become independent, sources of government funding would be very reliant on North Sea oil, and it’s very difficult to forecast whether that would be better or worse.”
The figures are the latest from the ONS this week after it brought out employment statistics covering June to August, which showed the number of people in work in Scotland had reached its highest level for more than five years.
There was also a fall of 3,000 in the number of unemployed Scots over the summer period.
Jobless households are those where all parents or guardians living in the home are unemployed and claiming benefits. There has been a sharp fall in the number of children living in those homes.
In the fourth quarter of 2011, the equivalent figure was 15.8 per cent, which at that time was higher than England and level with Northern Ireland.
Scotland was also responsible for 8 per cent of the UK’s economic output in 2010, suggesting that figure is solid.
And the weekly gross earnings of full-time adult workers has risen slightly, up from a median figure of £491 in April 2011.
Gross disposable household income in Scotland is also up, having risen from £15,300 per head in 2010.
A CPPR report found it impossible to say whether Scots would be better off under independence, but said that household income, economic activity, wages and profit were unlikely to change dramatically in the short term at least.
Crime: Levels of offending fall to lowest in 39 years
SCOTLAND has the lowest level of offending per head of population in the UK, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found. There were just 52 offences committed in Scotland per 1,000 people.
London had the highest rate with 95, and the England and Wales average was 66.
Crime has fallen in Scotland to its lowest level in 39 years.
However, recent figures released through Freedom of Information found three times as many serious assault victims turn up in hospital as are reported to police, hinting at a degree of under-reporting of crime.
Some crimes, such as robbery and housebreaking have fallen consistently, whereas knife crime campaigns have proven successful in recent years.
Reports of rape and domestic abuse are rising, but this has historically been under-reported in Scotland and police have welcomed the fact that more victims have been willing to come forward.
Victim Support Scotland said that, although some crime does go unreported, the police still deserve credit.
A spokesman for Victim Support Scotland said: “It is unquestionably a fact that there is unreported crime.
“However, this figure is still an encouraging one.”
Transport: Increase in road users in Scotland is the highest of any country or region in Great Britain, report says
The traffic on major roads in Scotland increased by 5.8 per cent between 2002 and 2012 – the highest increase of any country or region in Great Britain.
In the same period, vehicles using England and Wales’s A-roads and motorways increased by just 2.2 per cent. The number of road users in London decreased by 8.6 per cent.
For the past 10 years, rail fares have gone up over the rate of inflation, including a 6 per cent rise in 2011, which means more people took to their cars.An increased population using vehicles can also be said to contribute to the figures.
However, despite the increase in road users, CO2 emissions in Scotland have dropped by 30.8 per cent – just 0.01 per cent behind England.
In 2011, each resident in Scotland was responsible for 6.8 tonnes of CO2 emmissions.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government acknowledges the importance of these issues and is building the essential foundations necessary to encourage greater use of public and active transport. In 2012-13 we invested over £1 billion in public transport and other sustainable transport options to get people out of their cars.”
Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the figures represented a “missed opportunity”, and Scotland had now “caught up with England in terms of transport use and that it would be very difficult to go backwards.”
Life expectancy: Figures may be skewed by the ‘Glasgow effect’
Scotland has the lowest life expectancy in the UK, with figures said to be “comparable to eastern European countries”.
Scottish men are expected to live for 75.8 years and women in Scotland are expected to live for 80.3 years.
Men and women in England can look forward to living until 78.4 and 79.4 respectively. The lifespan for our counterparts in Wales is 77.5 for men and 81.7 for women.
Professor Robert Wright of the University of Strathclyde said: “We have to constantly remind the government of the effect of mortality levels, especially in relation to pensions. Even though life expectancy is increasing – it is still below the levels we expect. We still have a lot of work to do to catch up with the countries that we want to be with, including England and Wales.”
The reasons behind low life expectancy include social class, income, health and economic deprivation.
It is thought that the lower figures can be attributed to the “Glasgow Effect”. Three areas in the city have such a high death rate and low life expectancy it is thought to skew the figures for the rest of Scotland.