The UK is a Mutually Beneficial Union and the Objective Facts Prove it – Stephen Bailey

Written by Stephen Bailey:

Scotland has an annual GDP of around £160 billion. In 2021, she raised 7.9% of UK taxes but gets back 9.2% of total UK spending.

The assertion that ‘North Sea oil subsidises the UK’ and that ‘Scotland props up the UK’ is simply not backed up by the facts. North Sea oil revenue 2020-21 was £0.6 billion.

In 2021, Greater London ALONE (ie excluding the London metropolitan area) produced just over £500 BILLION (half a TRILLION) pounds, around 1/4 of England’s annual GDP of £1.86 TRILLION.

The London metropolitan area produces around £1 TRILLION, so the GDP of the entirety of London is slightly more than £1.5 TRILLION. Greater London’s economy alone therefore is more than THREE times the size of the ENTIRE Scottish economy, and London’s as a whole is over NINE TIMES BIGGER THAN SCOTLAND’S TOTAL GDP.

It generates more revenue per head than any other part of the UK. In fact, much of the South of England does, and many areas in the rest of England have a higher GDP than Scotland.

The myth of the oil argument.

The oil argument is yet another SNP-sponsored myth, like their often repeated ‘Scotland subsidises England’ assertion.

The McCrone Report on the oil fields around the UK was written in 1974, 50 years ago. Profitable oil reserves have largely dried up in the following years. Top petrochemical experts have stated that there are around 10 years of profitable oil left to extract in the oil fields situated around the seas of the UK. See

What’s more, the new oil fields found to the West of Scotland are situated too deep in the sea bed to be easily profitably extracted. The cost of extraction would be greater than the revenue gained from selling the oil, so no sensible company would be prepared to participate in such an unprofitable, unpredictable venture.

England doesn’t steal Scotland’s money

In fact, it’s Scotland’s biggest single customer by a very substantial way, as 59.7% of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK, nearly 4 TIMES her trade with Europe and very substantially more than her combined trade with both the EU and the rest of the world combined.

Scotland pays her share into the collective UK pot, like England, Wales and Northern Ireland do, and that significantly increases the UK’s overall economic standing in the world by several places. Scotland certainly DOESN’T subsidize or prop up the rest of the UK, but we’d all be worse off without her in the Union.

So, the Union is mutually financially beneficial to the entire UK (without even mentioning the other many other areas of mutual benefit, such as politically, socially, culturally, militarily et al.) That money is then distributed around the parts of the UK, dependent on need, and Scotland gets MORE than either England or Wales.

This fact is amply highlighted by the latest annual ‘Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland’ (GERS) figures.

Scottish public spending totalled £106 billion during 2022. That’s £19.1 billion more than was raised in taxes.

The Scottish Executive’s (Holyrood) own annual economic report, GERS, demonstrates how much the UK Government helps to support the country’s finances and is a serious setback for the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK as it highlights the lack of credibility of their economic plans for independence.

In summary

Scotland gets a good deal out of the Union, as does Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland’s deficit (the difference between what it raises and what it spends) is equivalent to 9% of Scotland’s economy (measured by Gross Domestic Product).

By comparison, the UK as a whole has a deficit of only 5.2% of GDP. That means, by sharing economic risks with the rest of the UK, Scotland has a smaller deficit. Added to this, with just over 8.2% of the population, Scotland pays 8.6% of tax but received 9.2% of spending.

Being part of the UK means £106 billion was spent on Scotland’s public services in 2022, the highest ever recorded expenditure in Scotland.

GERS also shows that every Scot is £1,500 better off living in the UK and a family of four is £6,084 richer.

The SNP needs to inform the public what independence would actually cost and what an independent currency would be, its value, how much it will cost to fund it and its impact on mortgages, wages, interest rates, among other questions.

Sources for data in this article:

House of Commons Library:

The Office for National Statistics:

Scottish Executive (Holyrood) website:

NB: The article does not necessarily represent the views of Scotland Matters.

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