Does Scotland “pay out” more

than it “gets back” ?

The Claim:

In response to a UK Government tweet stating, "The prosperity of the UK delivers greater funding for Scotland's public services" SNP politician Michael Russell MSP said:

“Actually this isn’t true. Scotland pays out more than it gets back. Time to stop the fibs, Boris, and face reality - the reason you won’t let us choose our own future is because you are scared of what it would cost you.”
Michael Russell MSP, Twitter, 7th February 2020

The SNP Cabinet Secretary for Constitutional Relations, Michael Russell MSP, has suggested that official government figures are wrong and claimed that Scotland contributes more as part of the UK than it receives in return. What is the truth?

The facts

  • Public money is spent in Scotland by our two governments. 

    • Last year, the Scottish Government, local authorities and public corporations spent £44.7bn on policy areas such as health and education. 

    • Over and above that, the UK Government spent £30.6bn, with nearly 60% on ‘social protection’ – ie state pension and benefit payments. 

    • This gives a combined total of £75.3bn of public spending in Scotland last year.

  • Tax revenues raised in Scotland were only £62.7bn, leaving a deficit of £12.6bn.

  • The difference between how much Scotland contributes per head in taxes and receives back in public spending – is £1,968 per head, or £7,872 for a family-of-four, over the year.

  • Scotland’s deficit is £12.6bn is 7% of GDP, compared to just 1.1% across the UK.

  • Scotland generates 8% of the UK's taxes, and benefits from 9.3% of the UK's public spending.

What the experts say

 

“In the latest year, including an illustrative geographical share of North Sea revenue, revenue per person was £307 lower than the UK average.”

The Scottish Government

 

“Expenditure for Scotland has been consistently higher per person than the UK average over the period.”

The Scottish Government

Scotland in Union Fact Check Conclusion:

 

It is a blatant lie from Mr Russell to suggest that Scotland pays out more than it gets back, and he should apologise for trying to mislead the public.

 

Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS) figures are produced by independent civil servants for the Scottish Government, and meet National Statistics standards, meaning they have been assessed by the UK Statistics Authority as being produced in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. 

The document captures all public spending that benefits the residents of Scotland, and presents an accurate assessment of Scotland’s economy as part of the UK. 

In 2018/19, Scotland raised £62.7 billion in tax revenue, which includes a geographic share of North Sea oil revenues.

Last year, the Scottish Government, local authorities and public corporations spent £44.7billion.

Over and above that, the UK Government spent £30.6billion, that is a combined total of £75.3billion spent in Scotland – leaving a deficit of £12.6billion.

It is therefore a blatant lie from Mr Russell to suggest that Scotland pays out more than it gets back, and he should apologise for trying to mislead the public.

It is for the SNP to explain what it would do differently in a separate Scotland and how it would reduce that deficit through increased taxes or public spending cuts.

But it is beyond any doubt that Scotland is stronger as part of the UK.

Does Scotland "pay out" more than it "gets back" ?

No, Scotland benefitted from an additional £12.6bn in funding from the UK Government last year.

FALSE

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