Scottish independence: Danny Alexander in grim forecast of age and poverty
THE finance minister of an independent Scotland will have to start cutting services from day one and continue for decades because of Scotland’s ageing population, Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander claimed yesterday.
The warning came as experts Dr Jo Eric Murkens, Professor Matthew Craven and Professor Robert Hazell told the Commons foreign affairs select committee that independence would mean Scotland would have to join the euro if it wanted to be part of the EU.
Another academic, Professor Nigel White from the University of Nottingham, told the committee that for “political reasons” the UK would have to take the blue out of the Union Flag.
Speaking to the Lords economic committee, Mr Alexander said that Scotland would be forced to make decades of cuts because of the volatility of oil revenues and because there would be a higher proportion of over-65s north of the Border than in the rest of the UK.
Mr Alexander said the “startling” Treasury statistics showed that by 2060 in Scotland there would be just 1.9 working people for every pensioner, compared with 2.2 workers per pensioner for the rest of the United Kingdom.
He said: “The debate should not be about what an independent Scotland would look like on day one, but in years to come. The oil reserves are volatile and running out, but the ageing population profile is about a generation ahead of the rest of the UK.”
He added: “I take difficult decisions on spending every day at the Treasury but the finance minister of an independent Scotland, should it come to that, faces making difficult decisions for decades.”
A spokesman for Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This is the height of hypocrisy from Danny Alexander – the fact is, only an independent Scotland will be able to properly protect the gains we have made for older people in Scotland, such as free personal care.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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