24 August 2016
New official figures confirm that being part of the UK means more money to spend on public services in the Highlands and Islands, said Rhoda Grant.
The Highlands and Islands Labour MSP was responding to the SNP Government’s publication of the annual GERS figures – Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland.
The official figures show that Scotland’s deficit is more than double that of the UK as a whole, but because we are part of the UK public spending in Scotland doesn’t need to be slashed to plug this gap.
The figures also confirm that North Sea oil and gas revenue fell by 97% in the last year – down from £1.8 billion in 2014/15 to just £60 million in 2015/16. Before the independence referendum Nicola Sturgeon promised there would be a second oil boom.
“Good quality public services that we all rely on need investment.
“ Whether it’s schools in the Highlands and Islands 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 Tories are already cutting public spending, but independence would make things even worse.
“At a time when we need to invest in schools, hospitals and local services the last thing we need is even more austerity – but that is exactly what would happen with independence.”
Addressing calls from local SNP supporters for a second independence referendum, Rhoda said,
“The SNP Government’s own figures should act as a reality check for those calling for another independence referendum.
“ The government should focus its time getting people back into work and investing in education and the health service, rather than campaigning for another independence referendum.
“The Scottish Parliament has major new powers over tax.
“Labour has argued for months that these new powers should be used to stop the cuts so we can invest in our public services.
“That should start with asking the richest 1% earning more than £150,000 a year to pay their fair share.”