GERS figures: Why Scotland's deficit is falling faster than UK Government - John Swinney

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures for 2021/22 published this morning show Scotland’s fiscal position is recovering faster than the UK’s in the wake of the pandemic.

They show there has been a huge fall in the annual deficit thanks to the largest increase in revenues on record. And that is before the full impact of the rise in oil prices that we’ve seen more recently, which is likely to see Scotland’s deficit fall faster than the UK’s again next year, with oil and gas revenue set to grow to £13 billion this year.

Indeed, GERS shows how the UK’s response to the cost crisis is being built on Scotland’s natural resources – not least with its windfall tax on the North Sea.

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GERS Scotland: What is GERS, why are the Scottish GERS figures important and pol...
Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: PA
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Today’s figures show that even without North Sea receipts, revenue raised in Scotland covers all devolved expenditure as well as all social security spending – devolved and reserved – including state pension provision in Scotland.

What we also see reflected are some of the different policy choices the SNP Government made during the pandemic – for example, offering more generous business rates relief than elsewhere in the UK in 2021/22.

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GERS describes Scotland’s fiscal position under current constitutional arrangements, with 74 per cent of revenue and 37 per cent of spending reserved – and we know Scotland’s economy is already suffering as a result of disastrous Tory policy decisions such as austerity and Brexit.

The UK has the highest inflation in the G7, and has the worst economic outlook of any G20 nation bar Russia. It is clear that a Brexit-based economy run by increasingly right-wing ideologues is no recipe for future success.

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And now, during the worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory, the UK Government has spent the summer in hibernation while the Tory party conducts its triennial leadership contest.

Independence is no silver bullet – but it would give Scotland the full economic and fiscal levers to enable us to weather the current storms, rather than leaving those levers in the hands of Westminster and hoping for the best.

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Our first independence paper showed how comparable countries are wealthier, fairer and have stronger public finances than the UK – so the question is why not Scotland? As part of our independence prospectus we will be outlining how, with the powers of independence, we can build on our economic strengths and resources to build a more prosperous, more sustainable and fairer Scotland.

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