Labour attack over GERS figures
Local MP Margaret Ferrier has been urged to stop calling for a second independence referendum after the publication of the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures.
Glasgow Labour MSP James Kelly referenced the Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP directly when he said the figures should “act as a reality check for those calling for another independence referendum”.
The GERS figures are published each year by the Scottish Government. This year’s figures revealed Scotland had a public spending deficit of nearly £15billion in 2015/16.
Public sector spending was 12,800 per person, £1200 greater than the UK average.
They also revealed offshore oil revenues had dropped dramatically from £1.8bn to £60m, although this was offset by a £1.9bn increase in onshore revenues.
Mr Kelly, a former MSP for Rutherglen, said: “Good quality public services that we all rely on need investment.
“Whether it’s schools or local health services, the way to grow our economy and improve our services is through more investment rather than cuts.
“The SNP government’s figures prove that being part of the UK means there is more money available to invest in education and the health service than if we voted for independence.
“The government in Edinburgh should focus its time getting people back into work and investing in education and the health service, rather than campaigning for another independence referendum.”
But Ms Ferrier insisted the GERS figures did not tell the full story.
She said: “GERS represents Scotland’s fiscal position under current constitutional arrangements.
“Scotland’s fiscal position under independence would depend on a wide range of factors – including public policy choices made by future Scottish Governments, economic growth, and Scotland’s contribution to UK- wide public services, such as defence, debt interest, and international aid. None of these factors are reflected in GERS.
“The fact is that Scotland is already facing cuts as a result of the UK Government’s austerity programme - something Mr Kelly’s party have been willing accomplices with in recent years at Westminster.
“Instead of issuing press releases like this, James Kelly should be issuing an apology for the £1bn of PFI payments listed in the GERS figures – this is his party’s toxic legacy in administration.”