The SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission report actually strengthens the economic case for Scotland remaining in the UK, according to a new study.
The analysis by pro-UK think tank These Islands found that the SNP report illustrates many of the downsides of independence while “highlighting (albeit reluctantly) the economic benefits of our inevitably flawed but enduring 300 year-old union”.
It also said that the “growth potential” claims made in the SNP report are unrealistic and based on misleading analysis, and that claims that the economic model proposed is “anti-austerity” do not stand up to scrutiny.
The SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission report, published in May, claimed that living standards in Scotland could “equal the best small countries in the world” within a generation of independence.
These Islands chairman Kevin Hague said: “The Growth Commission’s report contains highly misleading analysis, fails to address the key economic questions and – we presume unintentionally – actually strengthens the economic case for Scotland remaining in the UK.”
The study found that claims that the economic model proposed in the SNP report is “anti-austerity” do not stand up to scrutiny
The paper notes that had Scotland been independent and following the Growth Commission’s recommendations, public spending would have been £58 billion - £66 billion less than actually occurred over the last decade, and in 2016-17 Scottish spending would have been £8.4 billion (11.8%) lower.
It also found that applying the Growth Commission’s recommendations to Scotland’s future (under the assumption that it becomes independent in 2020-21) would be likely to lead to austerity far greater than anything Scotland has recently experienced, or is forecast to experience within the UK.
On the issue of currency the study found that the SNP report’s currency recommendation is “symptomatic of the weakness of the economic case for independence” and the commission “fails to show how Scotland could get to the fiscal surplus that would almost certainly be required to create an independent currency”.
The study said that the Commission helped show how being in the UK allows Scotland to enjoy the advantages of a shared currency and large domestic market, to avoid the fiscal constraints that would inevitably apply were Scotland a stand-alone economy, and to benefit from levels of public spending that would otherwise be unsustainable.
An SNP spokesman said: “If the Growth Commission’s approach had been followed over the last decade, the £2.6 billion of cuts to the Scottish Government’s budget by Westminster would have been completely reversed, with the prospect of additional public spending beyond that.”