Billions in debt

There was a glaring omission in both the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) and Scottish financial secretary John Swinney’s reported commentaries (31 July) about our being able to afford, or not, increasing welfare for our citizens.

Pensions, home and health care and other beneficial social security provisions, expanded education facilities, transport – all need more.

A quick look at Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland for 2011–2012 reminds us that even with all the oil ­revenues, we had an estimated “current budget balance” deficit of £3.4 billion – the estimated 
“net fiscal balance” deficit was £7.6bn.

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Presumably it is similar for 2012-2013. So the IFS restated what we already know – billions of pounds of additional revenues must be found.

Mr Swinney apparently just 
repeated the standard mantra: “use the wealth of Scotland to support our commitments”.

Holyrood must thus explain at last how additional income will be forthcoming, and what outgoings will be hammered, 
so that our wealth will indeed be adequate for our collective ­futures. Without the oil, our estimated deficit could have reached £17bn – truly negative wealth?

Joe Darby