An independent Scotland would be better placed to fund welfare benefits and pensions according to figures contained in the Government Expenditure & Revenue in Scotland (GERS) report.
The report shows that between 2005 and 2010 the percentage of government revenues spent on both areas was less in Scotland than the UK as a whole.
The analysis of the figures from GERS show that in Scotland between 2005 and 2010 Scotland’s pension expenditure was 15.1% of Scottish revenues (1), less than the 15.7% for the UK. In terms of social/welfare protection expenditure it was 41.9% of Scottish revenues, less than the 43.2% for the UK.
The figures call into question claims made by Scottish secretary Michael Moore in the House of Commons when he said that “the welfare system is more secure” with Scotland remaining part of the Union.
The figures also contrast with attempts by Mr Moore to compare Scottish welfare and pension spending solely with oil revenues – an exercise that if it applied to the UK as a whole would result in a trillion pound deficit for the Whitehall Treasury.
Commenting SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“This week’s trillion pound blunder by Michael Moore to try and scaremonger pensioners only looks all the more ridiculous when compared to the whole picture.
“On the basis of taxes raised in Scotland, and once our welfare protection expenditure and state pensions are paid, Scotland actually has a relative surplus compared to the UK.
“In short Scotland is more able to afford our pension and welfare bill than the UK.
The nationalist MP claimed Mr Moore was merely “parroting” figures supplied by the Tories and claimed Scotland was in a much better fiscal state than the rest of the UK.
Dr Whiteford added:
“Taking all spending in Scotland into account and all of our revenues, Scotland has run a current budget surplus in four of the five years to 2009/10 – while the UK was in current budget deficit in each of these years, and hasn’t run a current budget surplus since 2001/02.
“Michael Moore’s parroting of Tory arguments to talk Scotland down and use spurious comparisons to scaremonger pensioners, shows how little confidence they have in their case.”
On Wednesday when asked about the benefits of the Union Mr Moore replied (2):
“As part of the United Kingdom, Scotland’s economic opportunities are larger, our public finances are more robust, our defence is stronger, our influence on the international stage is greater, the welfare system is more secure and our cultural and family ties are closer.
“Those are just half a dozen reasons why we are stronger together.”
Earlier this week a report by Sheffield Hallam University warned that welfare reforms being proposed by the UK coalition could impoverish huge numbers of people.
The study found that the Tory/Lib Dem reforms would see six hundred thousand people taken off the benefits system and many would have to rely on family and friends in order to survive.
Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University said Scotland, Wales and the north of England would suffer most from the changes to be introduced by 2014.
1. Revenues being the money Scotland raises in tax for the very purpose of paying for public services
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