Scottish Government
Printable version

Delivering government with independence

DFM welcomes academic report highlighting ‘constrained’ initial set-up costs.

The Scottish Government has welcomed an academic report published yesterday estimating the immediate costs of setting-up an independent Scotland.

The report by three academics, including Professor Patrick Dunleavy of the London School of Economics, finds that Scotland’s transition costs are likely to be significantly offset by several factors including some significant initial ‘streamlining’ savings, the generally easier process of managing a smaller government infrastructure and some “substantial policy savings” in areas such as defence.

The report notes that expenditure in new IT systems over the medium term would be investments in modern systems that may deliver significant policy savings. It also points out that, with half of UK IT contracts up for renewal, the same investment will be required of Scottish taxpayers regardless of the referendum outcome.

The report, ‘Transitioning to a new Scottish state’, published by the LSE and Democratic Audit, an independent think-tank, notes that, “in contrast to the deeply embedded ‘silos’ of Whitehall departments, Scottish government is currently run as a single organisation” and that this “has proved a very effective pattern of government”. It finds that the “realism” of Scottish government planning for independence generally seems high, while concluding that “the long-run viability of an independent Scottish state looks strong.”

Prof Dunleavy estimates that the immediate set-up costs for independent Scotland would be up to £200 million. This investment would be to create new administrative structures, while it could also streamline many public bodies.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“I welcome Prof Dunleavy’s report as it totally vindicates the Scottish Government’s position on how we can complete the governmental transition to a fully independent Scotland. It makes clear how the initial start-up costs would be much less than the UK Government have sought to claim.

“The report points out that much of the UK structure of government quangos and agencies is highly elaborate and long-lived and that the Scottish Government would not need all these bodies, while there is also good evidence that government IT systems in small states around the size of Scotland are generally cheaper and more effective than with the scale of the UK state.

“And while the report judges the realism of the Scottish Government’s planning for independence to be generally high, it suggests that some of the demands for cost data made upon us at this stage would require “the prophetic powers of the Delphi oracle”.

“The report also makes clear that the main cause of uncertainty around Scotland’s transition to independence lies with a lack of UK Government planning so I urge UK Ministers, in line with the Edinburgh Agreement, to engage with us in sensible pre-referendum discussions. As we move closer to this exciting referendum on our country’s future, the people of Scotland deserve nothing less.”

The report, ‘Transitioning to a new Scottish state’ can be read in full here: -new-Scottish-state-PD-ebook.pdf


Channel website:

Share this article

Latest News from
Scottish Government