GERS figures show ‘huge fall’ in Scotland’s ‘deficit’


By Alasdair Galloway

Yes its that time of year again – kids go back to school, Scottish teams get punted out of Europe at the first or second time of asking and the GERS report is published to the cries of “told you so” by our Unionist chums. This is so predictable that if I didn’t hear the screech of Kevin Hague I would think I was going deaf (or worse!). Personally I am too bored with the whole thing to even work through it. I will leave it at two comments.

  1. The introduction will include somewhere about line 3 that the report sets out findings about Scotland under present constitutional arrangements. I would have put quote marks round this, but I can’t even be bothered to get even an old copy out never mind download today’s publication. In short, the report is about Scotland now and not about Scotland independent, for they cannot talk about that as they don’t know, for instance (only e.g.) how much debt an independent Scotland would take, and they don’t know how an independent Scotland would spend.
  2. Secondly, while the stattos who produce the report will have done a highly professional job, the fact remains that they have (proportionately) very few original figures for the data doesn’t exist in many cases separately for Scotland. Holyrood and Westminster are negotiating how to work out how much VAT is paid in Scotland. Many of the numbers they are working with are estimates – professionally produced and no doubt within +/- 5% confidence limits, but still estimates, and as we all know estimates don’t always work out. I wouldn’t use the word “shoddy” because as a statistical exercise it will be done to a high standard, but how much reliance should we put on it given the quality of data (and why is data for Scotland not routinely collected is another question – is it all that difficult?)

Two last things. First why have the Scottish Government persisted with this since 07? One reason is that the data suggested for a time (up to about 2012/13) that our deficit was less than the UK as a whole (oil was still about $100 – 120) but since then GERS has just been a stick to beat us with. Why not just stop this, take the political hit and move on? Or, more constructively instead why not a report that is transparent about Scotland’s finances, perhaps with a nod toward independence?

Lastly, the two photos above are of the Herald and National reportage of the publication, which illustrate exactly the divisiveness of the debate. The Scotsman in contrast includes both things in its headline so maybe there is hope.


12 thoughts on “GERS figures show ‘huge fall’ in Scotland’s ‘deficit’

  1. John
    With regards and your words ” Scottish teams get
    Punted out of Europe ”
    I kindly remind all that the whole of Scotland and its its peoples were Dragged out of Europe screaming as we departed
    And not allowed to Play upon the Brexit field of play once The Westminster referee blew the whistle
    At commencement play


    1. well actually the words were mine. John has enough crosses to bear. And it was a joke. In years gone by it went “By Christmas all the Scottish teams would be out”, this morphed to “Hallowe’en” and has since gone to “before the kids are back at school”. Before someone jumps in with Hearts will at least be in the Euro Conference and Rangers at least in the Euro League, IT WAS A JOKE. But you are right about Brexit

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I came across this article from last year

    “‘Gathering Storm’: How ‘Rogue’ Companies are Buying up North Sea Oil and Gas”

    The interesting part..

    “The North Sea oil and gas industry became a net drain on taxpayer funds in 2016, with one report estimating that the UK government – and ultimately, taxpayers – has lost more £250 billion in 13 years by giving tax breaks to the industry. The UK’s tax regime makes it the world’s most profitable market for oil and gas producers to develop large fields, as of 2021.”

    Does GERS have anything to say about the near £20 billion a year given away in tax breaks over the last 13 years?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I did a quick search on the subject and The Ferret has an article dated 13 Feb 2020 by Rob Edwards.

        ‘£250bn: the cost of giving tax breaks to North Sea oil firms’

        His article is based on a 30 page report by Juan Carlos Boué on North Sea oil taxes for the Scottish trade union climate group Scot.E3.

        The report was funded by the Public and Commercial Services Union and the campaign group, Platform.

        (A link to the report is provided which is in a pdf format.)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is easy.
    The Scottish government should announce a “transition tax” on energy flowing out of Scotland.
    Other countries this.
    I propose it to be set at 5p a therm for gas and electricity.
    North Sea gas futures are trading at 500GBp per therm.

    That is a 1% tax, and seems more than fair.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As well as the article published in the National on GERS, Richard Murphy did a live Youtube Q&A session with Xander which is easily digestible

    Aside his now familiar dismantling of GERS, Richard made the salient observation that Scotland and England probably run similar deficits, but were England to be broken down into 4 distinct regions and each analysed in similar fashion to GERS it would only be London and the SE of England which would NOT show a deficit.

    GERS was never designed to reflect the reality of Scotland’s financial condition, it was conceived as a political weapon and it has remained such ever since.
    SG must by law operate a balanced budget, all the rest is piffle….

    Only when independent will the true health of Scotland’s finances become known, but given London’s huge efforts to obscure it over the years suggests it will be in rude health indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The English government are known for their neverending generosity, subsidising everything and everyone in Scotland, but it’s s such a bore these days, having to squeeze your own toothpaste now that they won’t pay for the butler, they say it’s a luxury they can’t afford, how remiss of them.

    It’s always heartwarming to know that your next door neighbour cares so much, bring a tear to a glass eye so it would, sniffle sniffle.


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