Reliable figures

Stan Grodynski (Letters, 19 January) points to an apparent inconsistency in my correspondence in relation to the 2013/2014 budget underspend. The simple explanation is that in one letter I based my comments on the Final Outturn Report figure of £444m and in a subsequent letter on John Swinney’s revised figure of £145m.

More importantly, Mr Grodynski’s letter raises a pertinent question. What are we to make of a government report, published online for public consumption, which states that “the overall position… is an underspend of £444m”.

An obvious interpretation is that there is £444m still available to be spent. The “reality”, however, we were told by Mr Swinney, is that there is £145m to be spent. I am not alleging a deliberate attempt to mislead – indeed, the higher figure created more of a furore than the lower one would have.

But assuming, as Mr Grodynski says, that it is desirable “to raise the level of political debate in Scotland”, would we not be in a better position to achieve this if reports produced by a Scottish government – of whatever hue – provided information which is not only accurate but also complete and transparent?

Colin Hamilton


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