Whatever your political persuasion if you want to understand what drives the public spending disparities between the so-called nations that make up the United Kingdom the guide published today by the Taxpayers’ Alliance is indispensable.
Even of you don’t like the TPA’s point of view writer Mike Denham, who writes the Burning Our Money blog, is an ex Treasury economist who knows his stuff and writes well.
No doubt the key points below will be picked up widely in the media but I would recommend the whole paper.
- Identifiable public spending per head in England is Â£7,535 pa (2007-08). But in Scotland it is 22 per cent (Â£1,644) higher, Wales 14 per cent (Â£1,042) higher, and Northern Ireland an extraordinary 30 per cent (Â£2,254) higher.
- Just over the last two decades (since 1985-86), higher spending in the three devolved territories has cost UK taxpayers a cumulative Â£200 billion (Â£102 billion in Scotland; Â£43 billion in Wales; Â£57 billion in Northern Ireland).
- North Sea Oil has not funded the Scottish spending gap, despite Scottish Nationalist claims to the contrary. In only five of the last 23 years have North Sea Oil receipts exceeded the cost of higher funding paid to Scotland. Even with current high oil prices, the income from the Scottish share of North Sea Oil only just covers the spending gap, and North Sea Oil output is projected to fall by 50 per cent by 2020.