Friday 2 November 2007

Scotland subsidised? What rot!

You always knew the Herald was my favourite newspaper today, didn't you?

This fine organ of public opinion carries a fine front page splash today by David Leask and Douglas Fraser grinding down the myth that Scotland is subsidised (why do Scottish journalists have to keep doing this? It's almost like someone has something to gain by suggesting that England subsidises us ... )

Not content with this fine piece of work (I'm completely unbiased), there's an article inside by David Leask taking the myth apart point by point (main points below).

The coup de grace, though, the ultimate, the 'am I still sleeping' bit was Alf Young's considered piece (which I can't find online, so you'll have to buy a paper copy). Alf Young saying the SNP is right on the subsidy accusation? Jings!

Alf talks about George Rosie's work on Scotching the Myth from 1990, 1995 and 2000 - you can read these at .

Just before we get onto the detail of this fantastic piece of work, Douglas Fraser's blog talks about the phrase 'bonfire of the quangoes' being a 1995 George Robertson invention. I thought it was from much earlier than that - can anyone enlighten me so I can give DF some pelters? (I can see that one backfiring).

And so to the main course, the Herald's case against the subsidy argument (my interepretation which is, of course, completely impartial - if you want the full text away and read the Herald):

Myth 1: Scots get more public cash
Northern Ireland £10,271 per head (understandable)
London £9748
Scotland, £9631

Figures from PESA and Oxford Economics

Myth 2: English taxes pay for Scotland's high spending
Fact: Tax haul from Scotland £49bn, compared with total spending of £49.2bn.

Includes the North Sea revenues of £9.7bn for 2005-06 at a time when Brent crude was trading at as much as $50 per barrel. Today it is more than $90.

Scots corporation tax runs slightly above the national per-capita average, at £3.51bn in total.

So where is Scotland in a league table of contributors to the national UK coffers? Only Londoners contribute more, per capita.
London £10,947 per head
Scotland £9593 per head
(remember, though, that companies with an HQ in London will report profits there and be taxed there no matter where in the UK they make their money - my comment, not the Herald's)

Myth 3: Scots take more from the welfare state than anyone else
North-east England average at £3284
Northern Ireland - £3256 per head
Wales - £3136.
Scotland - £3086
North-west England - £3066
London - £2876,
England - £2736.
State pensions in Scotland amounted to £4.7bn, against £46.4bn in England.

Myth 4: Scots enjoy far better public services than the English
Net gain for north-west of England, £1732 per head, is 45 times higher than the modest £38 each Scot, according to Oxford Economics, gains from the rest of the UK.
Oddly, some of the multi-billion-pound investments in England, especially the south-east, seem to be forgotten. Crossrail, the scheme to improve commuter services to and across London, will cost an estimated £15bn.
(anyway - if your government isn't giving you these things, it's time you asked them why instead of complaining that someone else is getting them - if Scotland can do it, so can England. Stop whingeing and get on with it - my comment, not the Herald's)

Myth 5: Scottish ministers and the public sector hand big ticket' projects to Scotland
The Scottish Parliament cost £414 million, but it's up and running and doing the job it was built for. The Millennium Dome closed, unloved, after £603m of lottery cash, £200m of it in rescue grants and top-ups.
London Olympics. The official budget is running at £9.3bn.
Lottery funds, of course, are not included in the distribution of government money. Neither is the way the BBC spends its licence fee.

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