Scottish Budget

SNP ‘has cost low growth Scotland £8.5 billion’

Shona Robison
Shona Robison will deliver her Budget this week (pic: Terry Murden)

The Scottish government has been accused of failing to use its powers to grow the economy in line with other parts of the UK.

Scottish Labour says if Scotland’s economy had expanded between 2012 and 2021 at the same pace as the UK as a whole it would be £8.5 billion larger.

It adds that Scotland’s economy has also lagged behind the growth in other areas of the UK. If Scotland had kept pace with North West England, it would be £11.5 billion bigger. If it had followed growth in Wales it would be £9.6bn larger, and if it had matched the West Midlands it would have grown by £9.1bn.

Labour says that taking account of the changes in population in various parts of the UK show that this alone cannot explain the difference.

Scotland’s GDP would be £834 more per head in Scotland if it had replicated the overall UK growth, £1,567 more if it had kept up with the North West of England and £2,376 if it had followed Wales.  

Scottish Labour has said that while other areas of the UK have used devolved powers to grow local economies, the SNP has held back Scotland’s potential and hammered public finances.

The data has emerged ahead of Finance Secretary Shona Robison’s Budget on Tuesday, when tax rises and public spending cuts are expected alongside claims that Westminster policies are to blame for squeezing the budget.

Scottish Labour says the SNP has to take responsibility for failing to use its powers to boost the economy while other part of the UK have fared better.

Finance spokesperson Michael Marra said “The SNP’s low growth economy has robbed billions of pounds from Scotland’s economy. 

“While regions like the North West have thrived with the devolved mayors in Manchester and Liverpool, Scotland’s potential has been held back by an SNP government bereft of ideas or ambition.

“This growth gap has hammered public finances, and now the SNP is gearing up to slash frontline services and hike taxes once again.

“Scots are sick of paying the price of SNP failure – we need a government focused on growing our economy, creating quality jobs, and protecting public services.”

Ms Robison is expected to confirm that council taxes will be frozen in line with First Minister Humza Yousaf’s autumn pledge. This contrasts with further help that UK Communities Secretary Michael Gove is said to be proposing south of the border. He is reported to be planning a 6.5% increase in funding for councils in England amid growing fears about the number of local authorities facing effective bankruptcy.

The Financial Times said that Mr Gove would provide increased government assistance for English local councils, with a provisional package for 2024/25 worth around £64 billion.

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “The SNP Scottish Government will do all it can to mitigate the damage inflicted by Westminster, including in this week’s budget which will be rooted in supporting those who need it most as well as vital public services.

“However, despite Scotland making clear its opposition to Westminster’s approach, we do not have the powers necessary to escape this very challenging financial situation, which is a direct result of ever-tighter public spending and Brexit.

“With the full powers of an independent country, we could properly fund our public services, ensure that our health service is sufficiently resourced and build a fairer, more prosperous Scotland.”

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