Scotland cuts its deficit, but is still outspending the UK

Scotland's finances improving as deficit reduces, figures show

SNP urged to ditch plans for indyref2 as figures reveal Scotland's £13 billion deficit is four times the size of the UK's

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the figures provided further evidence that the country's economy was "on the right trajectory" despite the "limited powers" at the Scottish government's disposal.

The First Minister said the billions of pounds in oil revenues which Scotland has contributed to United Kingdom tax coffers in recent decades show the country has more than "paid its way".

The official GERS figures today showed that Scots benefited from £13,530 of public spending per head in 2017/18.

Sturgeon said she would not stand in the way of another referendum on Brexit, which was opposed by most voters in Scotland.

Sturgeon defends higher Scottish public spending and blames deficit-reduction policies imposed by May's Conservatives for rising income gaps across Britain.

Sturgeon said there was good reason for higher public spending in Scotland, including its dispersed rural populations, while higher oil and gas revenues in Scottish waters had in the past contributed heavily to the Treasury's income.

However, opposition parties pointed out that the deficit is four times higher than that of the United Kingdom as a whole, with the United Kingdom figure standing at 1.9% of GDP.

Scotland's geographical share of North Sea revenues increased from £266 million in 2016-17 to £1.3 billion in 2017/18.

"We've more than paid our way".

"I think it's important that that's a positive debate in the years to come and these numbers as well as other information will no doubt inform that in the period ahead".

The UK Government is investing directly in Scotland, including more than £1 billion in city and growth deals, and we are ready to work with the Scottish Government to boost the economy.

Official figures on the state of the country's finances also disclosed a record "Union dividend" of almost £1,900 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.

Scotland's share of North Sea revenues soared by more than £1 billion past year - but the nation's deficit level was still four times higher than that of the UK.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie said: "These numbers are another cruel blow to the Nationalists, coming from their own government".

She said: "The Scottish and UK Governments both have a part to play in ensuring continued stability for Oil & Gas firms, and investment must continue in the vital infrastructure required to streamline access to markets for businesses".

Struan Stevenson, chief executive of the anti-independence referendum group Scottish Business UK said: "The release of the GERS figures are our yearly reminder, if one were required, that the financial implications of Scottish independence would be devastating to businesses and families across Scotland".

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