First Minister: “Choice is between economic recovery or economic retreat."
Growth in Scotland's onshore revenues last year has more than offset the downturn in oil revenues, figures published today in Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland 2015-16 (GERS) have shown.
The figures, which do not include the potential impact of Brexit, show that Scotland's onshore revenues grew by £1.9 billion in the last financial year. However, the lower oil price has reduced offshore tax revenues and this has had a corresponding impact on Scotland's fiscal position.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
"The foundations of our economy remain strong. Scotland, in terms of economic output per head – and even excluding offshore revenues – remains the most prosperous part of the UK outside of London and South-east England.
"And today's GERS publication shows that our onshore revenues continue to grow, with revenue increasing by £1.9 billion over the year, more than offsetting the decline in offshore revenue.
"This supports increased health spending in Scotland, while education spending has also been rising even while it fell in the rest of the UK.
"And in the latest quarter, Scottish employment increased by 51,000 - the largest quarterly rise on record.
"The lower oil price has, of course, reduced offshore revenues, with a corresponding impact on our fiscal position - this underlines the fact that Scotland's challenge is to continue to grow our onshore economy.
"However, Scotland's long-term economic success is now being directly threatened by the likely impact of Brexit.
"Today's figures come a day after analysis from Scottish Government showed that taking Scotland out of the European Union and our place in the world's biggest single market would make the task of growing and diversifying the Scottish economy even harder.
"Maintaining our relationship with the EU will help us sustain the economic growth and job creation that we have seen in recent years.
"But if we were to allow Scotland to be forced out of the EU against our democratic will, then we will see Scotland's economy as a whole take a hit worth up to £11.2 billion pounds per year by 2030.
"It is coming down to a clear choice between economic recovery with a continued place in Europe and the single market – or economic retreat with Brexit."
Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay, said:
"It is important to note that GERS represents Scotland's fiscal position under the current constitutional arrangements. The position if Scotland was to become independent would depend on a range of factors which are not reflected in this publication.
"Today's figures do, however, highlight the challenges facing the oil industry. Muted global demand and a low oil price have clearly had an impact on offshore revenues – not just in Scotland – but we are doing all that we can within our powers to support the industry.
"We have a strong base to build our future progress upon, with the latest labour market figures showing the largest quarterly rise of people in employment on record.
"However, the real risk to Scotland's economy now is being taken out of the European Union against our will – such an outcome could cost the Scottish economy and public finances many billions of pounds.
"The only way to protect the clear benefits which come from being part of the world's biggest single market is to work to ensure we protect our relationship with the EU."
The full statistical publication is available at: http://www.gov.scot/gers.
The statistical news release is available here: http://scottishgovernment.presscentre.com/Content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=10572&NewsAreaID=2&ClientID=1
Yesterday, the Scottish Government published analysis into the potential cost of Brexit: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Brexit-research-shows-economic-risk-to-Scotland-2940.aspx
The aim of GERS is to enhance public understanding of fiscal issues in Scotland.
The primary objective is to estimate a set of public sector accounts for Scotland through detailed analysis of official UK and Scottish Government finance statistics. The report is designed to allow users to understand and analyse Scotland's fiscal position under different scenarios within the current constitutional framework.
Following a user consultation, the publication has been published 7 months earlier, in August 2016 rather than March 2017, in order to provide more timely estimates of Scotland's public sector finances. This follows efforts in previous years to reduce the time lag in publishing the report, and means that GERS is now published more than 10 months earlier than it was in 2012, and 16 months earlier than it was before 2008. Accelerating the publication schedule involves changes to the expenditure methodology which are discussed in the main document.