Nicola Sturgeon was today dealt a ‘devastating blow’ in her push for a second independence referendum as Unionists seized on figures showing Scots are £2,184 a year better off within the UK.
It was claimed the ‘Union dividend’ – the value of Scotland’s higher spending and lower revenue compared to the UK as a whole – had now reached the highest sum on record.
As revealed by the annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) report, the ‘Union dividend’ per person in Scotland was £2,184 in 2021-22.
This was an increase from £1,924 the previous year.
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the report showed how public spending per person in Scotland was £1,963 a year higher than the UK average.
This was despite revenue per person in Scotland being £221 lower than the UK average.
Scotland’s 2021/22 deficit stood at 12.3 per cent of GDP – down from last year’s figure of 22.7 per cent.
The UK’s deficit stood at 6.1 per cent of GDP over the same period.
The figures were said to be a ‘devastating blow’ to Nicola Sturgeon’s push for a second Scottish independence referendum
Ms Sturgeon has vowed to hold a fresh vote on Scottish independence on 19 October next year, despite the UK Government being opposed
Mr Jack said: ‘Today’s Scottish Government figures show how people and their families benefit massively from being part of a strong, resilient UK.
‘Scotland’s deficit – the shortfall between taxes raised here, including oil, and public spending – stands at £23.7bn. But as part of the UK, we can rely on the Treasury to step up to support us in plugging the gap.
‘At a time of unprecedented challenges, sharing resources around the UK has never been more important.
‘As we continue to recover from the pandemic and confront global pressures on prices and the cost of living, it is clear we need a shared and a relentless focus on boosting the economy.’
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said the Gers figures ‘hammer home the huge benefits we all get as part of the UK’.
‘Every person in Scotland is £2,184 better off – that’s the highest Union dividend ever,’ he added.
‘These figures are a devastating blow to Nicola Sturgeon’s push for indyref2.’
Ms Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has vowed to hold a fresh vote on Scottish independence on 19 October next year, despite the UK Government being opposed to another referendum.
The Scottish Government pointed to the Gers figures as showing Scotland’s ‘fiscal position is recovering faster than the UK’s’.
Scotland saw a 13.6 per cent increase in its non-North Sea revenue to £70.3billion, the largest ever recorded by the Gers statistics.
The report noted growth was particularly strong in VAT, non-domestic rates and fuel duties.
When North Sea revenues are included, total Scottish revenue stood at £73.8billion.
John Swinney, who is Ms Sturgeon’s deputy, said: ‘Today’s figures show Scotland’s fiscal position is recovering faster than the UK’s, with a huge fall in the annual deficit thanks to the largest increase in revenues on record.
‘This 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 £13billion this year.
‘The figures also highlight 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.’
Mr Swinney claimed the figures also showed the ‘economic harm of leaving the EU is driving up borrowing in the UK and contributing to the UK deficit being one of the largest in Europe’.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group