Today the Scottish Government published Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland – or ‘GERS’ for short – for the year 2018-19.
Figures show the overall revenue in Scotland reached £62.7 billion – exceeding £60 billion for the first time – reflecting the strength of the Scottish economy.
What is GERS?
The GERS report estimates how much money is spent for Scotland’s benefit by the Scottish government and the public sector – but it also includes how much is spent on ‘Scotland’s behalf’ by the UK government, including Scotland’s share of the cost of trident and HS2, the new high-speed railway linking Birmingham to London.
GERS provides a snapshot of Scotland’s public finances, in its current position as part of the UK, but doesn’t provide us with the full picture – and it doesn’t tell us about the finances of an independent Scotland.
Here’s what today’s report tells us.
Scotland’s onshore economy grew by £3bn
Scotland’s ‘onshore economy’, which excludes North Sea revenues, increased by £3 billion between 2018-19. This is the fastest onshore growth since 2010-11.
On the back of rising onshore revenues, Scotland’s notional deficit fell by £1.1 billion.
Scotland’s notional deficit is falling faster than the UK’s, with onshore revenues increasing by 5.1% to reach £61.3 billion in 2018-19 as a result of continued economic growth.
Health and education spending per person is higher in Scotland than in the UK as a whole
GERS shows that the Scottish Government is investing £109 more per head than the UK Government on health, and £215 more on education and training. This shows that the SNP is giving taxpayers the best deal of any part of the UK.
The figures show Scotland’s revenue is enough to cover all devolved spending as well as all spending on pensions and other social protection.
The UK’s Brexit plans put the Scottish economy at risk
Brexit, particularly a ‘no deal’ Brexit, would cause disproportionate damage to Scotland’s economy. The good progress made by the Scottish Government is at risk from the UK Government’s reckless approach to Brexit, which poses a severe threat to jobs, investment and living standards.
‘No deal’ could reduce revenues in Scotland by around £2.5 billion a year, demonstrating the growing need for Scotland to become an independent country in full control of its own finances.
GERS demonstrate the need for Scottish independence
Scotland is rich in human talent and natural resources. However, as part of the UK, Scotland doesn’t have the economic levers to maximise growth in our economy, and to invest according to our own priorities.
GERS figures include the UK Government’s spending on Scotland’s behalf, such as trident as HS2 – but the government of an independent Scotland would have completely different priorities.
Scotland’s ability to grow our population, and our tax base, is also held back by the UK Government’s damaging obsession with limiting migration.
In an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government will gain the economic powers to deliver policies that are tailored to Scotland’s own circumstances, and that would enable us to grow the economy while building a fairer society.