Politics

‘Stop peddling falsehoods’ Sturgeon ally triggers backlash as data exposes Scotland chaos

Sturgeon grilled on plans for Scottish owned energy company

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Deputy First Minister Mr Swinney took to Twitter after the publication of the annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report, revealing Scotland’s 2021/22 deficit stood at 12.3 percent of GDP (gross domestic product), down from last year’s figure of 22.7 percent. The UK’s deficit stood at 6.1 percent of GDP over the equivalent period. Scotland saw a 13.6 percent increase in its non-North Sea revenue to £70.3billion, the largest ever recorded by the GERS statistics.

Mr Swinney, who was himself leader of the Scottish National Party from 2000 to 2004, posted: “GERS 21/22 is published this morning.

“It shows that Scotland’s fiscal position is recovering faster than the UK’s – 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 £13 billion this year.”

He added: “Indeed, GERS shows 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.

Stop peddling falsehoods

Lucy Anderson

“Today’s figures show that even without North Sea receipts, revenue raised in Scotland covers all devolved expenditure as well as all social security spending – devolved and reserved – including state pension provision in Scotland.”

However, others were less than convinced by Mr Swinney’s arguments.

Twitter user Lucy Anderson replied: “Stop peddling falsehoods.”

Urging Mr Swinney to reference the fact that Scotland’s deficit was at least twice that of the rest of the UK, she added: “How about admitting you get almost £2,000 per person more than other areas of the UK and still you starve councils of money.”’

Referring to industrial action by waste service workers this week, she said: “These strikes are down to YOU.”

Scotty Murray said: “A huge fall because we were in lockdown and Holyrood received billions and billions of extra funding to see Scotland throughout the pandemic.

“You are spinning this fall in the deficit as if this down to actions taken by the SNP to reduce the deficit.”

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Public spending in Scotland remained higher per person than the UK average: in 2021/22, expenditure per person was £1,963 higher in Scotland than the UK average, representing an increase on the previous year’s figure of £1,530.

The report noted growth was particularly strong in VAT, non-domestic rates and fuel duties. When North Sea revenues were included, total Scottish revenue stood at £73.8 billion.

Also replying to Mr Swinney, businessman Kevin Hague, chairman of the pro-Union These Islands think tank, shared a blog in which he listed billions of pounds in public spending north of the border which he claimed the SNP was ignoring.

He commented: “Why would you ignore over £7bn of other reserved expenditure that takes place directly in Scotland @johnswinney?”

Commenting on the figures, Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “In a time of crisis, every penny of public money counts.

“We put our trust in governments to spend it wisely, not waste it on an unwanted second referendum or divide the people of Scotland once again.

She added: “The Scottish Government’s official figures show that as part of the UK we can spend more than £2,000 per person extra on vital public services such as our NHS and spend more supporting the most vulnerable in society.

“And that’s even taking account of rising oil and gas revenues, which we know from recent years are extremely volatile.

“In tough times, we get through this by bringing communities together, not pulling them apart.”

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