Credibility blow to anti-independence camp as they are caught ‘fiddling’ spending stats

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
Figures brandished by UK Coalition Minister Danny Alexander that apparently show Scotland benefits financially from being in the Union, have been exposed as bogus.
 
It has emerged that a UK Treasury report, which claimed to show public spending in Scotland was higher than that in London, used figures for Scotland that were eleven years out of date.

The revelation in the Scottish Sun which showed that the UK Treasury had rushed out statistics which do not compare like for like in order to do down Scotland, “speaks volumes” about the anti-independence campaign, said SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie.

Last week, the UK Treasury and senior figures in the No campaign used the figures from the report in order to paint, what has now been exposed as a distorted picture of public spending per head in Scotland.

UK Treasury Chief Danny Alexander claimed the figures were proof of the benefit of Scotland remaining in the Union.

The Lib Dem MP said: “These new figures show the people of Scotland continue to see a real financial benefit from being part of the UK.  The UK is an incredibly successful economic union and long may it continue.”

However, it has now emerged that the UK Government based spending figures for the rest of the UK on actual population figures from the 2011 census, but instead of waiting for the Scottish census to be published, they relied on estimates based on 2001 figures for the Scottish population.

The census for the rest of the UK showed the estimates had significantly underestimated the population of parts of England, specifically London.

The usefulness of the figures was also further undermined by their only showing one side of the balance sheet and not revealing that Scotland contributes far more than its population share to UK public finances.

Commenting, SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:

“It does the Treasury absolutely no favours to do down Scotland with inaccurate statistics that compare apples and pears – and this is deeply damaging to the credibility of the anti-independence campaign.

“As more people understand that Scotland will be in a better position with independence, the Treasury and the No campaign are becoming more and more rattled.

“Rushing out figures instead of waiting a few weeks to use the real figures for Scotland and the rest of the UK is simply shoddy.  We all want an honest debate, but this clearly shows that the UK Government cannot be trusted in the independence debate.

“The fact of the matter is that Scotland contributes 9.6% of UK tax revenues despite forming just 8.4% of the UK’s population.

“This game playing by the Treasury is the latest proof that the anti-independence campaign’s selective statistics have to be taken with a serious pinch of salt.”

The revelation is embarrassing to the anti-independence campaign which has tried to portray First Minister Alex Salmond as ‘untrustworthy’.

Speaking to the Scottish Sun, Blair Jenkins, the Yes Scotland campaign chief, said: “Every number issued by the UK Treasury needs to be checked against reality. This underlines the need for truthful and accurate information.”