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Wings Over Scotland

The missing (hundreds of) millions

Posted on June 04, 2014 by

Today’s papers are full of a report from right-wing thinktank the Institute for Fiscal Studies proclaiming that an independent Scotland would be even more unaffordable than the last time it was completely unaffordable, tax increases, public spending cuts, plagues of frogs, yada yada yada.

(We’re paraphrasing the Executive Summary there somewhat, but that’s the gist.)

We’re just not sure everyone’s got their sums right.

For a start, there’s this, on page 2:


But what the White Paper actually says is this:


Now, we’ve just got up, but £500 million is more than £400 million, isn’t it? It’s quite a bit more, in fact. Our team of expert economists has been studying the data this morning and has concluded that it’s roughly £100 million more. (An independent UK Treasury analysis has produced a figure of £1.2bn.)

£100 million isn’t chump change. It’s not a rounding error. It’s roughly double the cost of free prescriptions. The IFS paper is explicitly a study of the White Paper, so we’re a bit confused as to how it’s managed to casually “lose” a hundred million quid when citing a figure that the WP references clearly and unambiguously twice.


But in fairness to the IFS, the White Paper itself seems to have a dodgy calculator.

It seems to be universally agreed that Scotland’s contribution to defence within the UK is £3.3bn a year. It’s also a matter of record that SNP policy – which, remember, is what the White Paper lays out – is to spend £2.5bn a year on defence.

Correct us if we’re wrong, readers, but £3.3bn minus £2.5bn is £800m, not £500m. We’ve contacted the SNP to see if they can shed any light on the discrepancy. In the meantime, having glanced at only a single paragraph of the IFS report, we seem to have immediately found that its calculations are out by at least £400 million.

We’re just some idiots. We probably shouldn’t be able to do that, right?


[EDIT 11.26am: After a close study of the document, we think we’ve worked out how those numbers are arrived at, although they still contradict each other. But trust us, the story doesn’t end there. Stay tuned for more.]

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  1. 04 06 14 15:24

    Faeries and Kelpies. IFS and OBR: The Jackanory of Better Together’s bump in the night. | Ghosts of Darien

113 to “The missing (hundreds of) millions”

  1. Dr Ew says:

    Wiv al my fingurs and tows I av calk… cacku… I av addid up all em figgers an it sez 4.

    Yours faithfully

    Sir I.M. Ure-Elderand-Better
    133 Downing Street,
    Centre of the Universe
    FU2 UFNB

  2. bunter says:

    This is the think tank which is most independent and impartial with no links to the BBC and HMGov and certainly receives no funds from either.

  3. donald anderson says:

    Nae Santa Clause for Scotland neither?

    If only I could rewrite and reverse the headlines
    “English Santas Screw Hooses in Scotland”.
    “Bankers Rob People”.
    “Labour Robs Tory Policies”.
    “Tories Outflank Labour from the Left”.
    “Lib Dems Embarrassed”.
    “Salmond on a Hamster Free Diet”.

  4. abystander says:

    These are the same people who advocate a flat rate income tax, right?

  5. Helena Brown says:

    Well without the benefit of figures of any sort I worked out that we would be better off out of said UK given the fact that George Osborne has threatened continued austerity and for that I read the poor will be spanked good and hard so that the Westminster Government can buy more toys.
    Do you think anyone with some sort of clout could mention to the English and their hingers on that this is not about money. Nada, nout, most of us would happily pay for Independence.

  6. heedtracker says:

    “Our team of expert economists has been studying the data” but is your expert team a “respected” expert team of economists studying the data or even, “widely respected” expert economists studying the data? BetterTogtherBBC, IFS, OBR etc only ever use widely respected expert experts, other wise they’d all look a bit silly.

  7. ronnie anderson says:

    Ah hud wan o they Solar calculators, it dizna work in the

    dark or in overcast days.

    We need a timescale an a weather report fur a mair accurate


  8. Gordon Hunter (@GordonHunter11) says:

    Surely at some point in the near future the IFS will tire of shovelling shit.

  9. The Scotswoman says:

    Be prepared for even more bending of the truth from Westminster and its paid running dogs.

  10. TD says:

    A point often overlooked is that the money spent by an independent Scotland on defence (as well as on other things) would be spent primarily in Scotland, unlike the current arrangements within the UK where defence spending is predominalty spent in the South of England. So this means that when we spend money on e.g. a Scottish Ministry of Defence, that money will stimulate the Scottish economy rather than the over-heated London economy. Spread this effect across all of the other areas of government expenditure and we will get a further dividend of independence – how much will need a team of economists to work out, but it will be substantial.

  11. desimond says:

    Sounds like theyre all a bunch of


  12. Macart says:

    You can pull excellent cheap calculators off the shelf these days in any number of big supermarkets. Perhaps we should pass the hat around and send one on down to the IFS?

  13. patronsaintofcats says:

    “Our team of expert economists has been studying the data this morning and has concluded that it’s roughly £100 million more.”

    Do they have whiskers and adorable little twitching pink noses?

  14. msean says:

    I watched the bad news of the ifs figures being delivered in a jaunty manner by sky,then came the Queen in her new old electric windowed air conditioned cinderella coach.

    Please can we have more ifs figures and while you are at it,please send more Tories. 🙂

  15. heedtracker says:

    North Sea oil industry is the jewel in the UKOK crown. Scots oil industry will see all you disloyal blighter’s living in caves and begging England for help.

    Yours sincerely,

    The Widely Respected IFS,

  16. Ken500 says:

    They don’t seem to realise spending more on childcare will bring in more tax revenues That’s the point. They will not include the £4Billion Scotland repays on monies it doesn’t borrow or spend, which will reduce over time, especially with growth. Westminster intervenes to stop Scottish growth. Scottish EU Grants which go to Westminster, an increased farming CAP would come to Scotland. An increased tax on ‘loss leading’ alcohol which would save revenues on NHS/Social/Fire/Police services. Scotland would be £billions better off, with different policies.

  17. Jim Thomson says:

    Rev, when you eventually get to the bit where they completely ignore the tax take from Scotland that doesn’t get counted because it’s placed against London registered companies, feel free to wake me up.

    I need a good snooze.

  18. Macandroid says:


    “5318008618” – you can’t say that there are 55615866/3 present!

  19. Bigdrone says:

    Did every country go through all this pish to gain its independence – I really don’t think so!

    I’m away to get my abacus and beads out to check their calculations for them as that seems to be what they used!

    Might be the method big Broonie used!

  20. Rory says:

    Sorry if this has been posted. Already but im currently reading a four page spread in the new scientist called ‘four futures for Scotland’. 3 not bad ones and 1 scary basket case story. Not a bad wee piece . But then I’m not quite as analytical and profoundly filled with knowledge as some of you ladies and gentlemen.

  21. Jim Thomson says:

    @Rory – here’s the link to the New Scientist articles:

  22. desimond says:

    Speaking of money mistakes, 6 quid for Common Weal publication?, Bit of an own goal here I fear.

    Granted they might no have any money but I dont recall Martin Luther King saying “I have a dream…you can read it for 10 bucks!”

  23. Horseboy says:

    Found this link to BBC Pacific Quay protest demo on Facebook: Yes – NHS in Scotland.
    Just had to post this. All credit to its producer:
    Great YouTube video.

    Protest Against BBC Scotland Referendum Bias @ BBC Pacific Quay Glasgow 01/06/14
    Features interviews with Yes Supporters on their experiences of bias and views on BBC coverage of the independence debate.

    Jennifer Stewart from Coatbridge, who is featured in the film, wrote about her decisions to vote Yes. Jennifer’s letter has already had 11000 views and you can now read it here:

    My name is Jennifer Stewart and I have now been residing in Scotland for nearly 6 years. I am English born and bred and have spent most of my life living in The English Riviera (Paignton) with my family and friends. I am writing this piece as I have been asked many a time if I get a vote being English and why am I voting Yes in the referendum because of my nationality.

    When I first became aware of a referendum on independence my thoughts were, well Im English so ‘no way’. I thought it would be the wrong thing to do. However I consider myself to be an open-minded person and so I started to research into the details on either side of the debate and ask questions of fellow voters to try and get a better idea of what I’d be voting for. I soon discovered that this wasn’t an anti English vote at all. Some people call the SNP ‘a bunch of English hating racists’ however all I see is a party that has an issue with Scotland being run from Westminster not once have a heard any English racist comments. Anyways I am not voting for SNP I am voting for Independence. Indpendence for Scotland comes down to one major question, in my opinion, do you want the country that you live in to be run by politicians that you have voted for and want the best for your country? We know that there will be no land of milk and honey come a yes vote on the 19th September and there will be mistakes made but they will be our mistakes and it will be up to us to fix them. Is that not what being independent is all about.

    I visit Devon often to see my family and friends and have spoken to them regarding their opinion on the Independence referendum. My mum found it quite hard to believe that the Conservatives have only 1 seat in Scotland and that Scotland have a massive Labour vote in Westminster and said “well why wouldn’t Scottish people vote for independence so they can be run by politicians they have voted in”. She also stated that if she ever had the oportunity to vote for breaking away from Westminster she’d jump at it. Other friends assumed that Scotland was already being fully ran from Edinburugh and couldn’t believe we were dictated to by Westminster. I am very close to my family and friends and find that the better togethers notion that post independence they will become foreigners to me would be insulting if it wasn’t so laughable. Having lived and worked in many different countries over the years as a foreigner (including Scotland, if you listened to BT)I find the idea that being a foreigner is a dirty thing both hurtful and insulting. Unfortunately this seems to reflect the direction that Westminster politics is taking.

    Scotland has the people, resources and ingenuity to prosper. We should be asking why isn’t Scotland doing better, given all the natural and human wealth we enjoy, why are their so many people struggling and foodbanks opening left right and centre.

    I could sit and write all the reasons to vote yes but many people have already done so. I felt like I had to try and get my point across to other English people living in Scotland that this is not an anti English vote in September. Also for any Scots that are still undecided know that your vote is for the future of you, your children and grandchildren and if you want that future to be brighter and more prosper then vote yes with me in September

  24. JLT says:

    OT… The Scotsman sign is coming down… the big relocation has started. Yeah! Even grabbed a couple of photos!

  25. bunter says:

    Did the IFS factor in the cost of these fannies I am watching at the opening of parliament.

    Tune in to see your very own SLab trougher in their ermine cloak.

  26. manandboy says:

    On the subject of experts.

    Hamish and Harry are in the same Economics class at University.
    They are equally talented, bright and hard working.
    They both finish their course of study with first class Honours degrees.
    They both join prestigious economic Think Tanks.

    After a few years they are both regarded as the 2 finest experts in their chosen field – Economics.
    Hamish is a Conservatist & Unionist supporter.
    Harry is a Labour man but supports Independence.

    Both men are invited to produce a report on the economics of Independence for Scotland.

    Are these two men going to put their political views to one side and present a case for or against Independence based purely on the numbers, or,
    are they not much more likely to present a case using the figures, but both in such a way that will support their individual political views.

    The point I’m making of course, is that in the Independence debate, nearly everyone is political.

    That they might also be an expert may or may not be useful.
    But in many cases it is not, as many experts merely use their expert knowledge and name
    to further their own political cause.
    Though not all.

    A No politician hires a No expert.
    A Yes politician hires a Yes Expert.

    The reports from experts are in themselves unreliable.

    The BIG question is ‘ who is trustworthy?’

    Here’s a clue.
    What critical information did the UK Gov discover in 1974 which they felt was so politically sensitive
    that it should be kept secret for over 30 years,
    and which forced them into a lifetime of lying about oil & gas to the Scottish Public which continues to this day ?
    Answer : The McCrone Report

    This statement is true. The info came in the McCrone Report to the Westminster Gov. in 1974, and successive governments, both Labour & Tory, have lied about the oil and gas ever since, to this very hour.

    As Dennis Healy, a member of the Wilson Government, said only recently :-
    ” We had to lie to the Scots about the oil. We needed the money.”

    The UK Gov has never stopped lying to the Scots about oil & gas.

    The No Campaign have been lying from day one.
    And gas.

    In the history of the British Empire
    Which colony was ever establish based on trust and transparency – none.
    Scotland’s tragedy is that too many have been brainwashed by British propaganda
    and now they cannot distinguish a lie from the truth.




    Please wake up Scotland.

    Vote Yes.

  27. YoungNED says:

    @Desimond you just made my day *giugles like a 6 year old girl*

    I could’ve sworn it was 800… but then I’ve been watching Scotland 2014 regularly so I’m not so sure my cognitive functions are what they used to be.

  28. kendomacaroonbar says:

    What’s the difference between the IFS and IBS

    The net output is invariably the same.


  29. Aikenheed says:

    Not only will most of the money be spent in Scotland, if we have to source foreign kit eh helicopters, fast jets etc we can negotiate offset manufacturing deals which will give Scottish companies additional work

  30. caz-m says:

    Hold tight folks, stay strong, it’s just another “Dambuster” phase we are going through.

  31. desimond says:


    The best\worst thing is old Lizzie gets to stand up and say “My government hae decided to do heehaw for the next year and take as many breaks as possible as the Coalition has ran its course and they have an election next year!”

  32. manandboy says:

    Yup, Hamish is a Conservative supporter.

  33. Red Squirrel says:

    The referendum process has been very enlightening, just not in a good way.

    I’ve naively gone through life trusting many of these organisations and thinking there were actually some differences between the WM parties.

    The corruption and collusion we are seeing is jaw-dropping in its audacity.

  34. X_Sticks says:

    JLT says:

    “The Scotsman sign is coming down”

    Just got to stop the presses now. 😀

  35. desimond says:


    Yeah wasnt till I posted i saw I had put it in backwards but if it has one Winger holding a mirror up to the screen then even better 🙂

  36. scottish_skier says:

    OT but I just picked England out of the hat in the office world cup sweepstakes.

    Please forgive me if I go on all the time about 1966 for the next month or so. I just feel this team has the same quality and we can do it this time!


  37. CameronB Brodie says:

    Surely at some point in the near future the IFS will tire of shovelling shit.

    Not as long as there are numpties to sell it to, and crooks eager to sell it. 🙁

  38. Angus McLellan says:

    The IFS tell us that they are using an estimate of £29 billion for UK defence spending in 2015-16 (p. 11). Why they are using this number when the source referenced (p.11 note 14) provides a figure of £33 billion for the MoD’s resource budget in 2015-16 is anybody’s guess.
    It’s also a matter of public record that the White Paper’s £2.5 billion figure includes intelligence & so-called cyber-security (see this from Westminster’s “Scotland Analysis” papers), so that some £2 billion needs to be added to whatever UK figure is used for “defence” in the narrower MoD sense.
    Still, it’s not as if a 20% underestimate of comparable UK defence spending is significant, is it?

  39. Nigel says:

    Hmmm – the missing millions…

    One the biggest risks I see with remaining in the Union is a small matter of a debt of 1.3 trillion pounds. How does that compute with the IFS? The report, as always describes the risks of independence but none of the risks of remaining in the UK as it stands atm. The arguments for a no are never balanced with the risks. Also, they never really take into account how the country will develop after independence – it’s all based on a very narrow London view calculated to alarm.

    Also, this IFS flies in the face of the Financial Times analysis.

    It’s the same old, same old…right wing stuff…

  40. Graeme Reid says:


    2.2 Defence Spending in Scotland

    The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed in a series of Parliamentary Answers [1] that there is a significant and widening structural defence under spend in Scotland. This is the gap between Scotland’s population share of spending and the amount actually spent in Scotland:

    · The under spend in Scotland increased from £749m in 2002-03 to £1.259bn in 2007-2008, which represents a 68% increase in 6 years.

    Even when we put in the money for defence the £3.3 billion isnt even fully spent back in Scotland

  41. scottish_skier says:


    Neoliberal think tank in London utterly bricking it about the UK losing Scotland’s revenues.

  42. ian foulds says:

    Did IFS not say anything about the resources to the West of Scotland or was I supposed to keep that quiet in case Westminster did not know about it and then they would tell everybody, so we could all vote No and make sure they continue to look after us?

  43. HandandShrimp says:

    The IFS are largely commissioned for work by Government bodies. I would be interested to see who paid for this report. So should those that report on it but I see the BBC doesn’t (quelle surprise)

    I would be interested to see how much the UK Government (and Vince Cable’s BIS department in particular) has spent on reports, papers and studies (not to mention polls). A FOI perhaps?

  44. bipod says:

    OFF TOPIC, but I have just read that the Swedish FM has just come out against Scottish independence.

    He states that independence may have “unforeseen chain reactions” and will lead to the “Balkanisation of the British Isles”.

  45. msean says:

    Oh dear,doesn’t Sweden have any idea how Norwegian independence balkanised Scandinavia? not.

  46. scottish_skier says:


    Aye, Scandinavia’s like totally balkanised. Why isn’t it all one superstate ruled from Copenhagen? Recipe for disaster if you ask me.

    Swedish Foreign minister is a member of this party:

    The Moderate Party (Swedish: Moderata samlingspartiet: “the Moderate Coalition Party”, commonly referred to in Swedish as Moderaterna: “the Moderates”) is a centre-right, liberal conservative political party in Sweden.


  47. Clarinda says:

    Despite warnings I watched Scotland 2014 for the first time last night and was most impressed (yet again) by Jeane Freeman founder of Women for Independence – who when asked what she thought of the three variations of unionist ‘devo’ tempters made it clear that it was a clear choice between a “distinct YES and three maybes”. We now know that these faux largesse ‘maybes’ are in addition to IFS and BUTs (Better unaffiliated Together).

  48. desimond says:

    Sweden says NO!
    Can we expect Neil Kinnocks daughter-in-law to state Denmarks opposition next, or is she too busy getting some quality selfies?

  49. Westie7 says:


    More interesting in Carl Bildts comments are the consequences for the UK including the Ulster question rearing its head again. You don’t hear much in the MSM as to what a Yes would do to the Ulster question, do you!

  50. Roll_On_2014 says:

    donald anderson: at 10:44 am

    Nae Santa Clause for Scotland neither?
    If only I could rewrite and reverse the headlines

    “English Santas Screw Hooses in Scotland”.
    “Bankers Rob People”.
    “Labour Robs Tory Policies”.
    “Tories Outflank Labour from the Left”.
    “Lib Dems Embarrassed”.
    “Salmond on a Hamster Free Diet”.

    DA that is absolutely brilliant, I am still ROTFLMFHO.

    Your quotes should be framed and kept for posterity.

  51. ian foulds says:

    I have asked the Swedish question on the Site as to whetehr Mr Bildt noticed this ‘Balkanisation’ in respect to Norway

  52. heedtracker says:

    BBC loves the IFS but today’s Press and Journal is overjoyed plus their Brown coverage is pretty funny/creepy with “Gordon more fun than at No 10″ ” Brown calls for new powers” ” Minister hails UK clout for fish industry” and “Anger at Salmond’s words”

    It’s obviously not funny but it is from Vote NO or else P&J who have a ferociuos UKOK ligger, probably too far right Britnat even for the Daily Mail, or the Guardian called Cameron Brooks. Also Crash quoted with “This is about my children and my children’s children”

  53. CameronB Brodie says:

    I would have thought Sweden would have seen Scotland’s inevitable SNP dictatorship as an opportunity.

    Peaceful Sweden ‘arming dictators’ as defense booms

  54. heedtracker says:

    Swede PM ‘s Balkanisation so vote no is everywhere almost instantly. Better get used to this dudes face plastered across the telly for a few days

  55. cirsium says:

    thanks for the link to Mr Bildt’s comment, bipod. Good btl query Ian Foulds.

    Why would Sweden’s foreign minister make that comment at this point in time? Is it a coincidence that he made it after attending the secret Bilderberg meeting in Copenhagen over the weekend? Was he encouraged to so by some of the other Bilderberg participants like George Osbourne, Ed Balls, Peter Mandelson and the Better Together donor, Sir Douglas Flint, CEO of HSBC holdings?

  56. HandandShrimp says:

    Is Sweden simply responding to call from Cameron to say something for the No side?

    I have to say if he has then he has opted for a pretty silly comparison…perhaps it is tongue in cheek support.

    Off topic I watched Rees Moog doing his thing in Arbroath. It was a bit weird although his opening couple of minutes were entertaining – probably the nicest “please stay” in whole two years of the No sides output. I was bit confused by the walk in the field with the cows and the “I have always thought cattle were fundamentally Conservatives” WTF! 🙂

  57. Training Day says:

    Bildt’s comments really do give the game away.

    It’s all about suppressing the will of the people and protecting the vested interests of an elite. Well, duh.

    Labour must be proud – even prouder than they are of voting No – lining up alongside these neoliberal creeps.

  58. Sinky says:


    “I have always thought cattle were fundamentally Conservatives” Something to do with methane gas?

  59. Angus McLellan says:

    OT. Following up on the question from Twitter on the quality of long-term forecasts, here are the population projections for Scotland from 2001 and 2012.

    2001 Forecast figures (thousands):
    2001 5,064
    +5 years (2006) 5,023
    +10 years (2011) 4,983
    +15 years (2016) 4,943
    +20 years (2021) 4,895
    +25 years (2026) 4,828

    2012 Forecast figures (thousands)
    2012 5,314
    +5 years (2017) 5,407
    +10 years (2022) 5,520
    +15 years (2027) 5,626
    +20 years (2032) 5,714
    +25 years (2037) 5,780
    +30 years (2042) 5,836
    +40 years (2052) 5,935
    +50 years (2062) 6,029
    +60 years (2072) 6,138
    +70 years (2082) 6,267

    So, in roughly ten years, the General Register Office went from predicting that the population would inexorably decline in the future to predicting modest rises as far as they cared to project. No real change then.

  60. Peter says:

    Was the partition of Ireland not Balkanisation?

  61. cirsium says:

    the Bilderberg guest list is on this link It makes interesting reading.

  62. john king says:

    Ronnie Anderson says
    “Ah hud wan o they Solar calculators, it dizna work in the

    dark or in overcast days.”

    Dus it heat the watter?

  63. Murray McCallum says:

    Budgetary control is a central plank of the UK’s broad shoulders.

    It is through tight budgetary control that we have not avoided the £1.3+ trillion of government debt that we are currently in.

    I give all UK budget forecasts and analyses the credit they deserve.

  64. Phil Robertson says:

    “as to how it’s managed to casually “lose” a hundred million quid when citing a figure that the WP references clearly and unambiguously twice.”

    You’re not good with numbers, are you! Did you not notice that the IFS piece say “in 2015-16” while the WP says “2106/17”.

    If you are going to “play statistics”, you really have to compare like with like!

  65. Liquid Lenny says:


    You are a little out with your uk debt of 1.4 Trillion.

    After Sept 30th it will rise to 4 trillion as Public Sector pension liabilities and PFI come on the books.

    They have been promising to do this since Brown was PM, that is use the same accounting system as the rest of the EU but leaving it to after the referendum, well you can guess why, also it means that they will be trying to put more of it our way when we get a YES

  66. Helena Brown says:

    Well funnily enough my Guide in Gothenburg last year said many people (jokingly) were considering becoming Norwegian. Maybe that is where this is coming from or is it the all the big boys sticking together.
    Any road, he has no vote.
    Thanks to the people who posted the link to the New Scientist, I have given up on most things recently science being another. Seems you wave money under anyone’s nose and they will come up with complete tripe.
    Thanks as well to Horseboy for putting on Jennifer’s Post on You Tube, I should have, I thought it was wonderfully moving.

  67. heedtracker says:

    Here’s the IFS author in person and in 2012 economic forecasting totally from the OBR, like what she does with this frightener and same OBR set up by George Osborne. So they call the Tory UKOK tune and the whole of the teamGB press and the BBC tells us its all factual and be very afraid.

  68. Helena Brown says:

    @Nana Smith I see we lose out on Modern Slavery, maybe coming to a country near you if you vote NO.

  69. Brian Powell says:

    Bildt’s party has lost support and is most likely to be out of office at the next election, in a few months time.

  70. Shedgirl says:

    Stuart if you want to pick apart the IFS numbers, a good place to start is the fact that (assuming this hasn’t changed since last time) they take their oil revenue projections from the Office
    of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) numbers. This is the same OBR that one Alistair Darling, in 2010, called ‘an arm of the Conservative Party’.

  71. heedtracker says:

    Who pays for this kind of bettertogether report?

    Bottom of page 1
    “They also gratefully acknowledge funding from the Economic and
    Social Research Council (ESRC) through the Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public
    Policy at IFS (grant reference ES/H021221/1).”

    Again not too shabby, IFS cook up vote NO Scotland figures then pay for studies and reports that only back up IFS completely.

    Parcel of rogues is too soft on the whole shebang. Have UKOK academics like this lot not got some kind of ethics code of conduct deal? They are also same profession marking uni exams and essays or maybe not.

  72. Nana Smith says:

    @Helena Brown

    Aye Helena they are no doubt forging the chains right now.

  73. for 2014-2015 Osborne is borrowing £198 billion.

    In Sept.2013 Osborne set the budget for the Scottish Parliament for 2014-15 at only £28.6 billion.

    Scotland`s budget – Minus our share of Osborne`s borrowing(£19.6 b.) = £8.8 billion.

    This is the present deal, but the new deal by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is running rabbits round in ConDem circles.

    I`m certain Scots contribute more than £8.8 billion.

    Mugged,mugged and mugged again – by other servants that we fund.

  74. gavin lessells says:

    I understand from IFS report that they expect UK to have budget surplus by 2019. Highly unlikely! However, is that WITH Scotland as a part of the UK or without? That is not made clear.

  75. heedtracker says: IFS don’t exactly say who pays for them so where do they get so much money to do their studies then pay Messrs Tetlow and Phillips at Cambridge and Warwick uni’s to rip their studies to shreds?

  76. desimond says:

    Anyone ever seen Phil and Duggie in the same room at the same time?

  77. desimond says:

    Cant beat some irony in Queens speech

    Curbs on “excessive redundancy payments” for highly-paid public servants

    This from same government who continue to make it so difficult and costly for ordinary workers to contest unfair dismissals!

  78. heedtracker says: says IFS set up by City investors, Tory MP and stockbroker a fair while ago and IFS Director Paul Johnson’s a City Fund Manager. Wonder why he’s so anti independence then?

  79. bunter says:

    Wikipedia has a nice link to an old Guardian article headline where Nick Clegg attacks IFS projections as total mince, or words to that effect.

  80. velofello says:

    Why do I always snigger when I see reference to the IFS productions?

  81. Roland Smith says:

    The figures also depend on an SNP government that sticks to its White Paper proposals. I will vote for a Government that will spend roughly european levels of defence spending at approx 1.5 billion saving 2 billion. Would happily vote for less, Eire spend less than 1 billion and haven’t been invaded recently. Then there is the cost of Westminster. Then there is the saving in debt interest as we offset assets the UK will wish to keep such as the aircraft carriers, our share of QE which is an asset, our share of the bad bank, RBS and HBoS, our share of the foreign office estate and gold reserves.
    I would also vote for a party that does not replicate GCHQ and all the anti terrorist infrastructure the UK has but leaves that with Police Scotland.
    Its difficult to believe that any new government could be as useless as Westminster is when it comes to managing finances.

  82. desimond says:

    The BBC coverage of Sweden Foreign Minister speech hints at problems for UK but Jackson Carlaw seems not to have noticed….quelle surprise

  83. Onwards says:

    These reports always fail to take account of the increase in wealth that will be possible with increased productivity and new powers.

    Just a few examples:

    1. Lowering business taxes to level the playing field and attract more inward investment.

    2. Scrapping APD could DOUBLE the amount of visitors here, and boost the economy by £200m a year.

    3. The increased visibility that Scotland would have internationally would be a huge boost for tourism.
    Direct flights, Olympics, winning Eurovision etc 🙂

    4. Scotland would raise £520m a year with a 50p tax on each bottle of whisky.
    The vast majority of whisky companies are owned outside Scotland, and most sales are made abroad.
    Yet it HAS to be made in Scotland to be labelled as Scotch.

    It’s the same as the oil industry.
    The vast majority of the business is owned outside Scotland, and we don’t have a national energy company so the country can benefit directly.

    I fear we are being too timid, promising to keep things much the same as possible.
    Maybe an SNP independence manifesto to “BRING THE WEALTH HOME”, would be a more exciting prospect.

  84. Fairliered says:

    An independent Scotland won’t need right wing think tanks.
    So there’s another saving.

  85. Jamie Arriere says:

    Cattle are fundamentally Conservatives?

    Always stick to where the grass is greenest
    Environmentally unfriendly
    Stand around producing manure all day
    Known to attack the occasional rambler

    Yep, spot on

  86. BigSteveChisholm says:

    “Hi Carl, it’s Dave here. We’re still trying to winkle that pesky Aussie Assange out of the Ecuadorean Embassy for you.

    In the meantime, do you fancy doing me a personal favour? I just need you to make a quick press statement. I’ll have it drafted, you just have to sign it. I give you my cast iron guarantee I’ll return the favour. Thanks old chum, DC”

  87. Finnz says:

    I am intrigued by this claim of the IFS that taxes should go up if there is a large deficit in Scotland.
    I certainly do not remember taxes being adjusted by Westminster when the UK was in such dire financial trouble, in fact VAT was actually reduced to boost growth.

    Does this mean that by 2018, when the UK is forecast to be in surplus, I can expect my taxes to be reduced.

  88. caz-m says:

    It’s funny how the BBC can report on protests from Brazil and all other parts of the world, costing many thousands of pounds.

    Yet they can’t report on a protest against the BBC British Establishment Broadcaster, outside their front door on Sunday.

    And how much did Lizzie’s new bogie cost us.

  89. Murray McCallum says:

    “The world needs to invest more than 48trn dollars by 2035 to meet global energy demand and prevent oil prices spiralling out of control, according to the International Energy Agency” – Times

    I guess the OBR are sticking with significant oil price reductions. Have the IFS factored in sustained high prices (let alone increases)?

    Correct thread this time!

  90. heedtracker – thanks for the link to IFS (Instigated-1969).

    It refers to itself as a non-profit company.

    Does it qualify for TAX EXEMPT STATUS – because we will again be subsidising another arm of BT

    Company accounts.?

  91. Macandroid says:


    I hope you meant ‘buggie’ not ‘bogie’ 🙂

  92. MochaChoca says:


    Interesting point, but the IFS report clearly says “£400 million a year less on defence than will be spent on behalf of Scotland by the UK government in 2015-16″

    The Scottish Government won’t be independent until March 2016 so won’t be spending anything in 2015-16, so the 2015-16 comparison is simply the baseline as the last financial year of shared defence spending, the whitepaper clearly says in the first year of Scottish defence spending (2016-17) the saving will be £500.

    Although the point made in the article is that this is already under played by £300bn.

  93. Phil Robertson says:

    Onwards says:
    4 June, 2014 at 1:12 pm
    2. Scrapping APD could DOUBLE the amount of visitors here, and boost the economy by £200m a year.”

    The cost of halving APD is put at £230M so how does this work?

  94. Robert Louis says:

    Wow, so here’s the IFS (funded by pro union UK Government, London and the pro union BBC, London), telling us yet again (yawn!), that come independence, Scotland as a very wealthy nation, will uniquely in the world be unable to cope, and will run out of money, and be bankrupt or something. Anyway, apparently it’s gonna be awful – according to the IFS (funded by pro union UK Government, London and the pro union BBC, London).

    IFS – truly the unionist cabal’s favourite least-likely-to-be-honest think tank.

    Anybody else agree that this kind of peurile rubbish from London is getting boring?

  95. desimond says:

    Strange how when it comes to crazy transport infrastructure projects or UK projections, these folk never seem to get it right, yet when they talk of an Independent Scotland, we’re expected to believe every doom and gloom calculation?

  96. Robert Louis says:

    Phil Robertson,

    “Air Passenger Duty is currently set by the Westminster Government. With independence, the Scottish Parliament will be able to set Air Passenger Duty at a level that suits Scotland – or abolish it entirely.
    It is estimated that Air Passenger Duty will cost Scotland more than £200 million a year in lost tourism spend alone by 2016. In addition to the direct losses to the Scottish economy, another report earlier this year found that reducing Air Passenger Duty would increase receipts from other taxes, such as VAT.
    As an early priority for action following independence the current Scottish Government proposes a 50 per cent reduction in APD, with a view to eventual abolition of the tax when public finances allow.”

    Taken from Scottish Government white paper ‘Scotland’s Future’, page 414

    The reduction of APD, by boosting flights, availability and business/tourist visitor numbers, would increase the tax take from e.g VAT and the taxes on various supply chains, tourist and business services. This is partly based upon an earlier very detailed study by Price Waterhouse coopers on behalf of a consortium of four airlines, looking into just such a scenario (UK wide abolition of APD):

  97. MochaChoca says:

    “Scrapping APD could DOUBLE the amount of visitors here, and boost the economy by £200m a year.”

    The cost of halving APD is put at £230M so how does this work?”

    Could it be £200m net?

  98. Macandroid says:

    @ Robert and Phil

    Presumably we will also receive 50% of the APD taxes if it all at present goes to WM.

  99. Capella says:

    The OBR estimated oil price at $99 per barrel, a perversely low estimate. Brent crude is currently $108.82. With a production rate of over 1m barrels per day (estimated to rise to 1.5 m barrels by 2017, in spite of OBR low estimates) Ronnie with his calculator will soon be able to say how much value is being generated. The industry itself doesn’t seem to share the gloomy predictions of the OBR, the IFS, the BBC etc etc. see

  100. Robert Louis says:


    The IFS use oil predictions from that ‘stalwartf of fiscal rectitude’, the office for budget responsibility (OBR). To date, not one of the OBR predictions in economics or on oil prices have been correct.

    The OBR oil price predictions are massively at odds with those of the oil industry itself – which is what the Scottish Government rely on.

    What can I say, the IFS, a gloomy, ‘glass half empty’ think tank.

  101. Roll_On_2014 says:

    heedtracker: at 12:53 pm IFS don’t exactly say who pays for them so where do they get so much money to do their studies then pay Messrs Tetlow and Phillips at Cambridge and Warwick uni’s to rip their studies to shreds?

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) does say who funded this report

    These are among the main conclusions of two new IFS reports, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which update our medium-term forecasts for an independent Scotland’s public finances and consider the Independence White Paper in the context of these forecasts.

    This report, one of two, are both funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

    The ESRC by their own admission say:

    We are a non-departmental public body (NDPB) established by Royal Charter in 1965 and receive most of our funding through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

    So we have now been led to the reports paymasters, BIS a government department headed up by Vince Cable.

    All you have to do is follow the money trail back to UKOK.

    By the way the reports are dependant on the OBR forecast figures. Here is what Captain Darling said about this independent(sic) body/group in 2010. Although later he qualified that answer by saying NuLabour would keep the OBR.

    My initial thoughts were ‘malleable, arms length, good for government’.

    The Herald on Sunday had this to say about the OBR forecasts.

    We must take OBR forecasts of oil revenues with a pinch of salt.

  102. Phil Robertson says:

    @Macandroid, MochaChoca and Robert Louis

    Interesting what you find when you go looking. At best, the net position i.e. with the continued half of the tax is about break-even which hardly makes it work doing.

    The interesting bit is the figure of £200M which is given as the cost to the Scottish economy. (The tax take is comfortably in excess of that). The number appears in the White Paper which cites a report by York Aviation. The WP goes on to cite another report commissioned by Easyjet. What the WP ignores in that second report is the figure given as the economic cost to the UK as a whole, namely £500M. That makes the estimate of £200m for Scotland alone look a wee bit high.

  103. Robert Louis says:


    Re-read the answer I gave you above. It answers your question.

  104. Andy-B says:

    The facts of matter are we contribute, £3.3 bilion quid to defence, yet not one’ not one frigate is actually stationed in Scotland, as far as I can gather they come from Devenport, tell me again why we contribute billions yet are left virtually unguarded.


    This from the Glasgow Evening Times welcoming the Scottish governments outline for welfare, John Downie of the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, said its encouraging and inspiring.

    The same story seen from the anti-independence, London owned Daily Record, from the DR the only reporters name on page is that of the infamous, David Clegg.

    This is said of the same welfare report,”Plans for an independent Scotland’s new welfare system have been rubbished by charity bosses, before they’ve even been published, John Downie said the (same person as above)the plans don’t go far enough.

    No link available to the DR article only in paper version.

    There can be no doubt of the agenda of the ultra unionist and anti-independence London ran Daily Record.

  105. Murray McCallum says:

    Long term macroeconomic predictions do provide a basis for debate and assisting some policy design. History, however, shows the limitations of their financial predictions.

    Looking at “The IFS Green Budget 2014” a table summarises the vast difference in predictions around the UK Net Public Sector Net Borrowing (PSNB) – shortfall in tax receipts to cover government spending – requirement over a 6 (six) year time span. The comparison is to a Nov’10 report and one in Dec’13.

    £ billion Prediction / Actual
    Year Nov’10 Dec’13
    2010-11 148.5 139.4
    2011-12 117.0 118.0
    2012-13 91.0 115.0
    2013-14 60.0 111.2
    2014-15 35.0 96.0
    2015-16 18.0 78.7

    If we can have such a dramatic difference in forecasts produced in the space of three years and covering only a six year time period, why on earth is anyone believing a prediction over decades?

    Source of figures: (Table 1.1)

  106. Andy-B says:

    Talking of arms and defence Rev, here Ruth Davidson calls on you to go to Stirling on “Armed Forces Day” she claims it will be a wonderful event, and the biggest British forces day Scotland has ever seen set against the back drop of Stirling Castle. No mention of Bannockburn Festival, which I believe more Scots will attend, in the run up to a YES vote.

  107. Phil Robertson says:

    @ Robert Louis.

    I did read your answer.
    The PWC report is the report commissioned by Easyjet. It says abolition would be “fiscally neutral” i.e. break even as I said. It is also the source of the £500M figure for the cost to the UK as a whole which makes the £200M as Scotland’s share of the hit seem over-estimated.

  108. Murray McCallum says:

    Just to summarise, the UK’s forecast shortfall in tax receipts to cover spending 2015-16 was estimated at £18.0 billion in Nov’10.

    In Dec’13 the forecast for the same thing was raised to £78.7 billion.

    That’s a forecast revision (or error if we are being harsh) of 437%.

  109. a supporter says:

    Pale blue box. “IFS Spending Proposals …this would still leave Scotland with relatively high defence spending for a small rich country”

    IFS needS to make up its mind. Is Scotland a “SMALL RICH COUNTRY OR NOT”?

  110. Dr Ew says:


    Great post. Hamish, Harry and all the Insulting Fecking Stereotypes at IFS can forecast till they’re blue in face, when it comes right down to it we have everything we need to make it work and make it work well.

    This is about taking back power AND responsiblility.

  111. Rock says:

    Carl Bildt is a Thatcherite so it is no surprise that, like Barroso, he is acting like Cameron’s lap dog.

    Sweden is also backing Cameron in trying to prevent Junker from becoming EU President.

    Lots of Swedes go to Norway to work because of the higher wages there – the ‘separate’ Norway is richer than Sweden.

    What the UK is afraid of is ‘Balkanisation’ of the UK will inevitably lead to Scotland being better off and rUK being worse off.

    They don’t give a damn about Scotland.

  112. frankieboy says:

    Independence, it’s not about the money and I’m pretty sure that unionists can’t really grasp that, but while we are on the subject it is worth remembering that unionists bead-counters are the very same people who never noticed 2008 and the subsequent £1.4trillion UK accrued debt.
    There are three types of people, those who can count and those who can’t.

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