Monday 23 February 2009

The first cuts are the deepest ...

It strikes me that Labour MPs - including the most senior Whitehall Ministers - are getting more and more verbose about the cuts Ali Darling wants to impose on Scotland. The Head Boy himself was pitching for sainthood this weekend, suggesting that Scotland's Government should be delighted to have £1 bn worth of cuts imposed on the Scottish people - and that the Scottish Government should be looking for additional cuts to hurt Scots even more.

That, of course, would include the Head Boy's own constituents - how can he justify that? Here's how -
We've said we need to get £5bn worth of efficiencies out of the system. When you're spending over £600bn a year, most people will think if they're pulling in their belt, why can't Government?

Compared to £500 million from a 'predicted Scottish budget' of £30 bn. So that's 1/120 of the UK budget to be saved as opposed to the 1/60 that he wants to cut from Scotland's budget. 0.83% of the UK budget or 1.67% of the Scottish budget.

Thank you Darling!

While we're on the subject, there's a continuing whoosh about Labour's claims that somehow Labour Ministers in London have given the SNP Government far more money to play with than they ever gave a Labour administration in Edinburgh - particularly the claim that Dewar's Ministers had to take turns busking in Princes Street in contrast with the current bunch who could afford to decorate Derry Irvine's front room. Let's lift the stone, eh?

Dewar's first year as First Minister (1999-2000) saw a budget total line of £16.302 bn. I know, I know, Labour keeps saying it was £14 bn, but who are you going to believe, me or them? Besides which, that's a figure from a budget published by Dewar's administration.

So was it a sudden and enormous leap in cash when the SNP came to power? Well, no. Take a look at last year's Consolidated Fund Account for last year which, fortunately, has the figures for the last year of Labour control alongside. It's delightful, honestly ...

Money from London 2007-08: £24,616 million
Money from London 2006-07: £21,752 million

The total cash from the Consolidated Fund for the two years was just under £24 bn and just under £27 bn (there are other income streams). For the coming year the cash grant will be £28.7 bn. Note that this includes (in all three cases) non-domestic rates, repayments of funds, pensions contributions, EU funds, etc. - we're not talking London largesse here.

There was, of course, £100 million clawed back by London last year and £101 million clawed back the year before (dinna fash, there's loads of ways they take 'government' money out of Scotland - we'll get to them some other time). What about all those extra £billions in the Comprehensive Spending Review? Well, take the time and enjoy yourself by immersing yourself in the massively exciting Government Financial Reporting Manual which will, I promise you, rock your world. You'll find out about spending notional money, counting it as it comes in as well as when it leaves. My personal favourite, I think, is the quantification of opportunity cost in the accounts - imagine a sole trader trying to get away with it - makes bankers look like boring beancounters really.

So anyway, getting back to the point ...

The big increase in money from the Labour Ministers in London was to Labour Ministers in Edinburgh - before the SNP won power. That might have been to cover additional expensive responsibilities like, for example, financial assistance for post offices and the provision and regulation of rail services (2000); the funding of rail services (2001); more railways (2002); and financial assistance for shipping services (2002).

None of that will matter to Messrs Brown and Darling - Darling wilfully ignoring the efficiency savings already forming part of the Scottish budget as a result of his squeeze while calling for more pain for Scotland. It's funny how often there's another side to the Labour meltdown - and another side and another side. Labour spinning so much it's becoming boring.


Anonymous said...

Your 1/60 and 1/120 estimate is wrong. £33bn is only for devolved government in Scotland. You aren't comparing like with like.

Anonymous said...

Thought you'd have been having a field day with the news about the trams.

Calum Cashley said...

Now then, Mr Unionist, from whence cometh your figures? Did Alistair give you a call to let you know that he'd changed his mind about ripping all of that money out of the Scottish Government's budget? Did he also tell you that his cuts would be based on whole Government spend figures rather than cash equivalents? I didn't compare anything, I contrasted two different situations.


Anonymous, I'm shocked! The very idea that I might take a pop at the Tram Project! Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Did it yesterday ...