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Scotland’s finances stronger than UK
Scotland is in a stronger budget position than the UK as a whole for the fifth consecutive year, according to new figures published today.
Government and Expenditure Revenue Scotland 2009-10 figures show that, including a geographical share of UK North Sea oil and gas revenues, Scotland contributed 9.4 per cent of UK public sector revenue and received 9.3 per cent of total UK public sector expenditure, including a per capita share of UK debt interest payments.
Including a geographical share of North Sea revenues, Scotland's estimated current budget balance in 2009-10 was a deficit of £9.0 billion, or 6.8 per cent of GDP - stronger than the UK-wide deficit of £107.3 billion, or 7.6 per cent of GDP for the same year, including 100 per cent of North Sea revenues.
In terms of the net fiscal balance - which includes infrastructure investment for long-term benefit - Scotland was again in a stronger position than the UK: a deficit of 10.6 per cent of GDP, compared to 11.1 per cent for the UK as a whole.
Commenting on the figures, Finance Secretary John Swinney said:
"Scotland has now been in a stronger financial position that the UK as a whole for each of the last five years. Once again, the official GERS figures show that Scotland contributes more to the UK exchequer than we receive in public spending.
"Despite the fall in North Sea revenues to £6.5 billion in 2009-10 - less than half the level for this year - Scotland still contributed far more to the UK exchequer than our share of population, which underlines the breadth and strength of Scotland's finances, and the opportunities of financial responsibility and independence. Scotland generated 9.4 per cent of UK tax with 8.4 per cent of the population - the equivalent of £1,000 extra for every man, woman and child in Scotland.
"The figures also show that in 2009-10, at the height of the UK recession, half of the £2.8 billion increase in public spending in Scotland was for social protection measures such as unemployment benefits, while increased spending by the Scottish Government on the health service also accounted for a significant share of the rise.
"We know that Scotland's oil and gas resources represent a trillion pound asset base - worth more than 10 times Scotland's share of a UK debt built up by successive Westminster governments. And we also know that North Sea revenues are on a sharply rising curve - in 2010-11 they were £8.8 billion, and this year the North Sea is forecast to generate an all-time record £13.4 billion in tax revenue. Indeed, over the next five years North Sea oil and gas is forecast to raise £61 billion in tax revenue, 35 per cent more than during the previous five years.
"Unlike successive UK governments, the Scottish Government has run a balanced budget every year since 2007, and we now urgently need new levers to promote economic recovery in Scotland, such as access to enhanced borrowing powers, corporation tax, excise duties and the Crown Estate."