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England’s giant subsidy to Scotland is just how Sturgeon’s Nats like it

The current financial arrangement suits Sturgeon’s Scottish nationalists rather better than they care to admit

Jeremy Warner for the Telegraph

27 March 2021

But here’s the point. Scotland is by no means a poor part of the UK; actually, average earnings are roughly the same as the UK as a whole. It follows that Scotland’s per capita contribution to tax revenues is also roughly the same. Scotland’s slightly higher top rates of income tax make only a marginal difference. Revenues from North Sea oil have also ceased to offer much by way of the offset once claimed for them by Scottish separatists.

In any case, if you want to know why Scotland can “afford” free higher education, free social care, free prescriptions, a 4pc pay rise for healthcare workers, and all the rest, but England can’t, ask the late Joe Barnett.

It is also why the Scottish National Party opposes anything by way of meaningful reform. They know a good thing when they see one. Despite the distortions, they will not be backing the “needs based” system sometimes proposed by way of a fairer alternative. The UK Government also guaranteed continuation of the Barnett formula when campaigning against Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum. We tamper with it at the union’s peril.

Indeed, the only way it could plausibly be changed is ironically via a vote for independence in the second referendum Sturgeon threatens to demand should she win an overall majority in the Holyrood elections.

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