Economics of Independence Scotland's Economy

10 key economic facts that prove Scotland will be a wealthy independent nation

Written by Michael Gray

All the evidence demonstrates that Scotland is a wealthy nation. Scotland would be the 14th wealthiest nation in the developed world by GDP per head of population. Scotland’s wealth is also built on solid financial foundations, a diverse economy and substantial economic potential in new industries such as biotechnology and renewables, as well as current key sectors like food and drink, tourism and oil and gas.

Voting for independence – to have control over taxation, regulation and global promotion – will give the Scottish government the tools to create greater opportunities for growth and a better business climate for Scottish business. In short, a Yes vote will improve Scotland’s economy. This will make people in Scotland financially better off.

Here are 10 key economic facts for why Scotland will be a wealthy independent nation.

1) Scotland has a rich and diverse economy

Scotland’s economy includes £21.4 billion in construction which employs 170,000 people£11.6 billion in tourism which supports 292,000 jobs£39 billion yearly turnover in manufacturing with a value added of £12.7 billion and 127,000 people employed. Scotland also has world leading expertise in life science, world class universities (5 in the world’s top 200), a multi-billion pound creative sector and vast energy (oil, gas, tidal, wave, wind and solar), fishing and agricultural resources.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 16.22.11.png

Source: Page 87 in Scotland’s Future

In a broad context it is already clear that Scotland has vast economic wealth in resources, talent and business ingenuity.

2) Scotland is a net contributor to the UK

Last year Scotland provided £800 more in tax per person that the UK average. This means Scotland would have been £8.3 billion better off as an independent country over the past 5 years.  We could have spent that money investing in our economy with the same debt levels as the rest of the UK or saved it and had £8.3 billion less debt.

3) Scotland generates far more tax than the UK average

Scotland generated £800 more in tax per person than the UK as a whole in 2012-13.  Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK every year for the past 33 years. The graph below is for a shorter time period but produced by the UK Government. Even in the years where oil prices were lowest, Scotland tax generation was always been considerably higher than the UK average and England in particular.


Source: Government Expenditure and Revenue Reports 1999-2011

4) Westminster has cost Scotland £64 billion in the past 30 years

Scotland has paid £64 billion in UK debt interest that Scotland didn’t need. An independent Scotland would have been far better off economically. This was reported recently in the Sunday Times after bespoke Business for Scotland research showed that Scotland has been subsidising the failings of Westminster economic mismanagement.


Source: Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures with Scotland based borrowing

5) Scotland has a lower deficit and lower public spending than the UK

Over the past 5 years Scotland had lower deficits than the UK. Scotland’s average deficit has been 7.2%, while the UK deficit has been 8.4%.  Scotland only spends 42.7% of Scotland’s GDP on public spending. The UK spends 45.4%. (also over the past 5 years) This demonstrates that Scotland’s public finances are in a stronger position than the UK as a whole.

6) Scotland has strong exports

Scotland’s top export markets are USA, Netherlands, France and Germany, which are worth a combined total worth of £9.5 billion. (Table 9.1) Scottish whisky exports are valued at £4.27 billion last year. This is because Scotland exports 40 bottles every second! The food and drink market is key to Scotland’s exports across the world. Other key industries include chemical manufacturing, computer products, finance and insurance and other forms of equipment. (Table 9.1) With the powers of independence combining with the Scottish Government gaining direct control over international relations, there is a target to increase exports by 50%, which would create over 100,000 new jobs.

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 19.57.40.png

7) Scotland’s oil fields remain a massive financial asset

The oil in the North Sea is worth over £1 trillion. There are at least 15-24 billion barrels of oil remaining which will continue long into the 21st century. Over 90% of the tax revenue will go to an independent Scotland which can help to establish a national oil fund for future investment. Recently, Business for Scotland explained the potential for a West coast oil boom that is currently blocked by Westminster. Independence could revitalise the economies of Ayrshire and the Strathclyde region as a whole. Most oil price forecasts are upward, with one of the exceptions being the UK Government’s OBR which has a political motivation to underestimate oil revenue.

oil prices

8) Scotland has huge potential in renewable energy

Scotland has 25% of Europe’s total tidal energy potential, 25% of total wind energy potential and 10% of total wave energy potential. This has the power to reindustrialise Scotland bringing more jobs and greater prosperity. Key examples include the Pentland Firth – the Saudi Arabia of renewable tidal energy – and the Moray Firth – a substantial offshore wind energy project. Small scale and often community owned renewable projects also have huge potential to provide low cost energy to revitalise Scotland’s rural communities.


Source: Hardisty, J., 2006. Analysis of Resontant Buoys for Wave Energy Conversion in UK Waters. University of Hull.

wind power potential

Source: UK Energy Research Centre



9) Scotland is one of the top UK locations for inward investment

Inward investment into Scotland’s economy has hit a 15 year high. Last year Ernst & Young ranked Scotland as the most popular UK destination for global investment outside of London. Scotland secured 11% of all UK Foreign and Direct Investment despite being only 8.4% of the UK population.  The report confirmed that far from uncertainty over Scotland referendum causing a slow down in inward investment that “it seemed to have the opposite effect”.  A combination of tax incentives combined with a raft of other economic measures such as significant government investment in fast growing sectors should ensure FDI continues to be a strong contributor to Scotland’s economy.  Indeed evidence suggests that newly independent nations enjoy significantly increased FDI.

inward investment

10) An independent Scotland can support Scottish business in tax, regulation, the labour market, innovation and global exports

An independent Scotland will prioritise the interests of business in Scotland following decades of Westminster prioritising London and the South East. This includes the opportunity to create a simpler tax system that supports Scottish business; reforming the labour market to improve employer/employee relations; encouraging migration to Scotland to balance Scotland’s unique demographic needs; and supporting Scottish exports globally through a Scottish diplomatic and trade service. The opportunities of independence are vast and long-term.


11) More reasons?

These points provide a starting point for analysing Scotland’s numerous economic strengths and the reasons Scotland will be financially better off as an independent country.

There are 1000s of pages of detailed research by the Fiscal Commission, the Jimmy Reid Foundation, Scottish Government Papers like ‘Scotland’s Future’ or ‘Economic Policy Choices in an Independent Scotland‘, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, which agree that Scotland is a wealthy nation that can do even better with independence.

There are also hundreds of other positive economic reasons for independence that can’t be covered in just 10 points such as controlling air passenger duty, retail support, Scotland’s independence asset windfall of £109 billion, the economic defence dividend that will save Scotland at least £500 million a year, improving Scotland’s pension system, the benefits to business of improving social mobility and equality or the Common Agricultural Policy dividend that Scotland would gain with independence.


There is overwhelming evidence that Scotland will be economically better off as an independent country. Even opponents of independence have conceded that Scotland can be a successful independent country.  Their own negative economic forecast estimated that Scots would be just £1 worse off a year.

In contrast every single Government Expenditure and Revenue report for the last 30 years – compiled with official statistics – finds that Scotland generated more tax per head than the UK.

If voters are convinced that Scotland will do better economically a majority support independence. Yet astonishingly around 34% of the electorate currently believe that Scotland would fare worse economically as an independent country; while 37% believe Scotland is incapable of independence. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this. Not a single economic expert supports such a doom laden proposition.

This demonstrates that truthful economic information like the facts contained in this article will change the result of the independence referendum.

With the knowledge that Scotland will benefit economically from independence, business and citizens will move towards voting Yes as it is the only way to ensure progress for themselves, their businesses and their communities.

Scotland will one day vote for independence because the positive economic case for independence is unanswerable.

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About the author

Michael Gray

Michael is Head of Research with Business for Scotland.

A graduate from the University of Glasgow, he has carried out a series of interviews with academics, politicians and the public in Denmark, Iceland and Ireland. Michael's on twitter @GrayInGlasgow.


  • Hi Michael, interesting piece – can you please advise why your remarks under (1) make no reference to the sector which generates more than one third of all non-public sector GDP?

    Also, what would table 9.1 look like for an independent Scotland, ie were the rest of the UK considered an export market?


  • Whether or not there are economic problems, winners, losers, etc. – there is a racing certainty that an independent Scotland would be ranked as one of the richest twenty countries in the world. Any economic problems would be just teething problems – viz. Norway, the Czech Republic & Slovakia, which are all quite comfortable now (especially Norway). Independence for any nation is an emotional and existential necessity. The plain and salient fact is that no independent country in the world regrets being independent, or is planning to give up this status. Rather the reverse is true – more, such as Catalonia, Tibet, etc. want to join the ranks.

  • Gordon – On point 2) above, what happens if you vary the timescale from 5 years? Are we a net relative contributor over the last, say 4 years on the same basis? If our finances are truely as robust and lacking in volatility as you say, then the answer must be yes. Is it?

  • I will bet that it won’t be long until all those who are moaning that we should vote NO start moving north to scotland because they want free education for their kids, Feeling hard done by because they have to pay for prescriptions, annoyed they have to pay more for fuel, angry that they still have to pay the BBC to watch their favourite programs where hopefully we will have the choice to opt out. Then there is the cut in airport tax for the Scots, possible introduction of a border control – extra security sounds good to me. I don’t really care what our currency is as long as we have complete control over it. It’s a YES from me, what’s not to like?

  • I am not involved in business but recognise the importance of getting the facts about it out there. While I agree wholeheartedly that Independence is about much, much more than money and “economic forecasts” appear to change with the wind, I know that to many it is THE important point.

    People like me need to know how to respond to assertions being printed and spoken daily about why we cannot manage as a separate country. Keep giving us the facts so that we can respond confidently. You are doing a great and very necessary job. Many Thanks.

  • Scots wa’ hae …. lead on to Victory. Oh YES.

    Look further deeper into your genes as without our proud heroic ancestors our Nation would not be facing this freedom decision today, nor sadly we never may again, so open far the minds and hearts, think not soulessly selfishly but courageously rejoice in having a unique chance to be at so long last and for centuries to come your own people with your own unique treasured nay revered identity.

    Think ‘there is a tide in the affairs of man which when taken at the flood … leads on to fortune, favoured by the brave ‘ and that needs courage lads and lassies.

    Bannockburn or Culloden win or loss, brave heart we never faltered fled the field.

    Surely unjeopardised risking not life nor limb nor anything – not now ?

    YES now.

  • Hi guys,

    Does anyone know if we will need new passports if Scotland becomes independent? What will these cost? And will they have same acceptance around the world as the British passport?

    Best Regards,


    • Does anyone know if we will need new passports if Scotland becomes independent?
      The White paper clarified this and citizenship by saying: –
      “In taking forward the result of a vote for independence, we will ensure that British citizens “habitually resident” in Scotland on independence will automatically be considered Scottish citizens.

      This will include British citizens who hold dual citizenship with another country. Scottish-born British citizens currently living outside of Scotland will also automatically be considered Scottish citizens. Other people will be able to register or apply for Scottish citizenship on independence based on clear criteria.
      All Scottish citizens will have the right to acquire a Scottish passport, although there will be no requirement to hold one.
      We plan that citizens will be able to apply for Scottish passports from the date of independence.”

      What will these cost?
      This was also clarified in the White Paper: –
      “A Scottish passport will cost the same as a UK passport and you will be able to continue using your existing UK passport until it is the normal time for you to change it. To find out more about
      passports and citizenship, go to Chapter 7.”

      And will they have same acceptance around the world as the British passport?
      Again in the white paper: –
      “Scotland is already part of a Common Travel Area (CTA) with the rest of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which dates back to the 1920s. We plan to remain part of the CTA which means that there will be no border controls, and you will not need a passport to travel to other parts of the
      UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (although of course some airlines require proof of identity for domestic flights). You can read more in Chapter 6.”

      • You realise, Mark, the white paper is a party manifesto and not a defined/agreed blueprint for how it will work?

        It will all depend on post vote negotiations, so there’s no guarantee, Ashish. Hopefully, however, the white paper is correct as I doubt it’s an issue that the UK would kick up much of a fuss.

      • The CTA is an agreement between the UK, Ireland, The Channel Islands and The Isle of Man no mention of an independent Scotland. If an independent Scotland joins the EU or its immigration policy is different from the rUK then a controlled border is certainly on the cards.
        With the rise of English nationalism maybe the CTA and dual nationality will end. I believe future relations between an independent Scotland and England will also suffer.

  • […] So, on balance I do rather suspect that the Scottish people of today, even those with an appetite for independence, would be more hesitant about the idea if we did not have North Sea revenues backstopping the idea of independence but that is not the same as saying that Scotland couldn’t make it as an independent nation even without oil money. People, if you only take one thing away from this article please make it this; Scotland’s wealth is not all about oil. […]

  • Regardless of economic predictions (who predicted the banking collapses?) the strongest case for independence is the one for democracy. Scotland is being governed and legislated by politicians in Westminster and Brussels and influenced by global policy makers in Washington. We need to stop the march towards global corporatisation of industries, governments, and countries. The economic success, regardless of resources, depend on the people and the parliament it elects. There are poor resources countries that do well economically and, conversely, countries rich in resources that are in financial difficulty. The future cannot be predicted but you make a decision and do your best.

  • The fact of the matter is, there will be facts and counter facts on both sides. The fact that a UK treasury individual had come out and said that monetary union would be best for the UK, you only have to look at the ratings agencies, they would immediately downgrade the UKs debt rating if there was no monetary union so would the UK government want to get into even more debt?

    You also have to look at how South East centric the UK has become and continues to be (I don’t see any chance of this slowing down). In other countries this power is shared in the big cities, so one area of their country isn’t the be all and end all. Lessons in history teach us not to put all our eggs in one basket so why are we doing that with the concentration of everything in London, what about great cities like Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds and Cardiff ? Big infrastructure projects that are sanctioned only go as far as Manchester, what about further North or even Northern Ireland?

    The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want the chance to be in charge of Scotland’s destiny or do you want to leave it to the Torries in the South East who have no interest in Scotland besides it’s natural resources.

    Remember it wasn’t so long ago in the 70s when a UK government lied to the Scottish people about how much Oil was in the North Sea for fear that Scotland would survive (by being independent with it’s oil) but the rest of the UK would not.

    P.S. As an aside, I still get funny looks when I try to use “Scottish” bank notes down south anyway, some people won’t even accept them 🙂

    • It would not be best for rUK to enter a currency union. For the sake of 500m there is no way any politician will agree to a blank cheque for the Scottish banking industry and Govt. The last bailout cost 150bn, they won’t make that mistake if Scotland is a foreign Country. The UK did not bail out Ireland for instance…

  • What would happen if Scotland dropped Vat to 17.5% and Import Duty to 10% instead of 12%

    Would that draw importing into Scotland by English Business to then have it transported down south?

    • Business for Scotland has raised the prospect of dropping VAT to 9% on tourism related activities to boost tourism and increase jobs in that sector. specifically as it would boost the economy in rural areas. So there are option in terms on changing VAT but an across the board reduction may be too expensive in the early years. It is important to note though that VAT cannot be devolved to Scotland under EU law, we can only use this as a tool to improve economic growth if we become an independent country.

      • Just to clarify your point. An independent Scotland could not change the VAT rate, because of EU law? How independent is that? It appears to me we leave a 300 year old union with which we have a lot of say and clout, not perfect; but then again there is not such thing, to be constrained by a 30 year union which completely ties our hands and we have no say at all in any area of economy, law, jobs, defence etc…. I would be totally on board if we stood outside of the EU and a referendum on this issue as well

        • No an independent Scotland can change the VAT rate even within the UK as you can only make country wide changes. The UK cant change it just in Scotland because of the EU so cant ever devolve that tax.

          • So Gordon, presumably your Scotland wouldn’t want to join Europe as the EU would limit the opportunity to set VAT rates??
            Actually I expect that any application from Scotland will be vetoed by Spain due to it’s Basque & Catalan question, then you have France and the Bretons and the Italian north/south imbalance.

          • EU currently limits ability to set VAT rates at a national level Scotland is a region so as part of the UK we cannot lower VAT rates on Tourism to boost our rural economy but as an independent nation we can. 21 out of 28 EU nations have lowered VAT on tourism related activities so Scotland is disadvantaged by being part of UK because London is a major tourist draw and looking at it from Westminster you would just let Scotland lag behind…

            As for vetoes Spain has explicitly said it would not veto – we say we are members and there is no mechanism to ask us to leave simply as we vote yes so veto does not apply. Even if it did Spain has said they see Scotland and the Catalan / Basque situation as completely different – after all they wouldn’t want to see Scotland vote yes and admit is was the same issue or it would guarantee more pressure on spain to allow a referendum.

  • Probably won’t post this, because there is one running theme in this post, there is only positive attitudes towards an Independent Scotland. Your man who says that “other countries go to war for sovereignty”, doesn’t see the bigger picture in that together we can share the burden.

    Another who says that England is flooding, so lets be independent we don’t have to help them, lets just let them suffer in the homes they’ve built up working hard, unlike the unemployed, and thats based on opinion, not statistics, its life events that I’ve seen, the number of unemployed layabouts, now England, Wales, and Northern Ireland won’t be the land of Opportunity but at least they have a bigger population to deal with their crowds of unwashed masses.

    This is rhetoric non-sense. Your facts, as per most articles for a “YES” Scotland are based on circumstantial, out of context bulletins with a spin put on them to fit your article.

    IT IS ABSOLUTELY outrageous how many people on this site are showing themselves up as being selfish, narrow-minded and lead by fancy facts and figures, bulletin headlines without drilling down into the facts, and as for your first comment of “Close-minded”, this person needs to stop and think, why are we so adamantly saying no!? There must be a reason, and be guaranteed it is much more than the fear of the unknown.
    I fully and completely agree that the Transition costs (which evidence my claim of out of context bulletins), that have not been mentioned in this article, will cripple this country, increase borrowing, and destroy the lifes of persons aged between 10 and 40,

    Open your eyes! debts and recessions are at an all time high, major brandnames curtailing back and cutting their losses closing many operational sites across the world, whilst others simply collapse under the financial pressure. I am not going to give you empty facts that are based on twisted statistics, but advise you that petrol and booze are not going to support this country where 28% of funding comes from Local Government, screaming unskilled jobs make up a proportionate part of our educational standards, and skillbase of which there appears to be very little, and our strongest option is the Euro which caused Spain and Northern Ireland to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy.

    So think on People of Scotland, NHS, Armed Forces, the National Monetary provision, will all incur massive “Transition” costs. Evidenced by the obvious fact that the sheer cost of our 8 police services, in comparison to the 48 in England obviously crippled us so much so we merged it into 1. Sacrificing local community Policing for a national strategy, because cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh will be interested in what is happening in the Outer Hebrides. The SNP then tried to sell this as a success advising that Crime had fallen, but the actuality of it was one unified Crime Recording trend causes massive write offs of small historical or low-value crimes. SO I pose to you do you really feel safer in your home because the statistics told you? No? Well statistics, in my honest opinion, badly interpreted; are making you think Scotland will be better on its own in a WORLD full of people.

    May the odds always be in your favour.

    If this country goes independent I’d rather drown in Flooded England than a Sea of debt for the rest of my lifetime, in Scotland.

    • So you think you can only help people if you share the same government? Funny, people I know help others in other nations all the time. So if there is a tsunami in Malaysia that devastates that nation or a hurricane that wipes out Haiti, you won’t help out because they aren’t run by Westminster?

      That’s pretty sad for you. It is certainly no argument for the Union. As for the drop in crime, it happened. Maybe you need to think about that instead of trying to dismiss it.

  • I wonder how many NO voters will actually bother to read this article. They all seem to be close-minded, sadly.

  • In general, people are reluctant to change anything for fear of the unknown and coupled with a slight leaning to pessimism it’s going to take more of this type of article to convince them to say YES. Let’s hope it gets through ! I for one are full of optimism. We’ll never amount to much as an English appendage that twinges occasionally. We need to break free to be masters of our own destiny.

  • You ugly mugs will be turned down in every bar in the world “you need currency to buy a drink”

    You are an insult to the Scottish nation.

    Do you think we are all as fucking, ignorant and stupid as you are,

    • you sir, are one of the reasons I am determined to vote a big fat YES, ON THE 18TH. your abnoxious attitude, like a lot of others in this so called UK, IS ONE OF THE REASONS I describe myself, as Scots, not Brittish. some English, have this high moral ground that……nice place, but the Spanish waiter could not even speak English..attitude. Alba gu Bragh.

  • As one who uses his passport for work and not just a fortnight in Benidorm, i enjoy the privileges granted by many countries to a British passport holder with respect to visas etc.Other nationals envy at the ease of entry for British Citizens as they sometimes face anxious ordeals in gaining entry.
    What will become of the British passport? Will we have a Scottish one and if so would the same favouritism and privileges be granted.

    • A recent European survey of passport stops for the European Custom Union, evidenced that it was the Suisse passport holders, followed by Andorran holders who headed the border control list of un-stopped travellers by air, road and sea immigration officials in the 32 National frontier authorities, so maybe in the future the Scots people as part of a country with a more modest population will get an even better reception like the people of Eire.

    • Of course there will be a Scottish passport. Why on Earth woild there not be ? Rather silly question I think. As an Asia based businessman with a UK passport I have to go through purgatory to get visas for China and India, two of the world’s largest markets. It would not be any more or less difficult with a Scottish passport

    • The UK government admitted some months ago that existing UK citizenship laws will not be altered if Scotland becomes independent. Citizenship law is complex, but the basic position of UK citizenship law is that if British citizenship is acquired at birth, it cannot be alienated – nothing you do later in life can alter the circumstances of your birth.Even when a UK citizen is naturalised as the citizen of another country which requires the person to make a declaration renouncing any previous citizenship as a condition of naturalisation, the UK continues to regard that person as a British citizen.

      If you’re born British there’s nothing you can do to make the British government strip you of your citizenship. Even Guy Burgess wasn’t stripped of his British citizenship after he’d fled to the Soviet Union.

      AND you’ll pass on your British citizenship to your future offspring, even if they will be born in an independent Scotland and you took up Scottish citizenship upon independence. The babies which are not yet even a twinkle in anyone’s eye will inherit British citizenship by virtue of their parents being British citizens. If you’ve already got kids, they are already British citizens, and will pass their British citizenship on to your grandchildren.

      Hope this clears up any concerns you may have.

  • I was on the fence with my decision on whether to vote Yes or No until I seen the despiration and typical English government trying dirty scare tactics when they had no facts to back them up. It is clear that they depend heavily on our nations wealth as for many years they have been trying to bleed us dry. Why are they not offering any valuable reasons to stay. Reason they can’t they know they have had a good thing for to long. Why won’t Cameron have a live debate with Samond again he knows he can’t win. Scotland will have a lot of hurdles to overcome if we get our independence it may take years for us to benefit but the big picture is we will benefit our children will benefit our grand children will benefit so don’t be scared to think best the devil you know and vote no, take this once in a life time opportunity to be part of great history and vote YES YES YES YES.

  • In the event of a Yes vote in September thee will be 18 months to plan for start up costs. However all sensible financial commentators accept that an independent Scotland is a viable proposition and on day one we would start off with a balance of trade surplus, a budget surplus with several savings on things from Trident to the cost of Westminster.

    And using future oil revenues as collateral the new state could easily borrow on international markets at reasonable rates for any short term start up costs.

    The position will be even healthier if Messrs Balls and Osborne have a death wish and refuse a currency union and allow Scotland to leave debt free.

    As with all modern democracies it depends on the economic policies adopted by the government of the day.

    One thing is certain, if we remain part of the UK we will suffer more austerity and budget cuts in a very unbalanced union which will always be geared to the priorities of London and the south east of England.

  • There’s a fairly major component here which is left out of the analysis, namely transition costs. It’s not enough to say “we generate more tax revenue than we receive in expenditure, therefore independence will make us richer” – you also have to factor in the cost of making the transition. That’s a point which the academic Robert Young, who has nothing to do with the independence campaign, demonstrated several years ago: see here for a summary

    The basic point is that creating an independent country carries with it certain temporary costs that can offset the gains from independence (assuming there are gains) for decades. Even a fairly short period of transition can put back economic benefits for 30 years. To that we have to add the extra regulatory costs in preventing barriers to trade developing, the loss of economies of scale in pooling our resources with the rest of the UK, potential transaction costs if we use a different currency (this one is debatable of course), the higher interest we might pay to service our debt if we had a new currency, and so on.

    I worry that such simplistic calculations as the one presented in point 2 here will confuse people into thinking that it’s an open and shut case that independence leads to economic benefits. It’s actually an extremely complicated subject. What point 2 argues is a bit like saying “a couple should get divorced because one of them pays an extra £6 per year on light bulbs and toilet paper” – it’s an argument that only makes sense if you divorce it from the rest of the factors that have an impact (pooling resources on rent, the cost of finding a new house, etc.)

    None of which is to say that independence will make us poorer, but the case has to be much stronger than this if it’s to be convincing. It has to deal with the negatives as well as the perceived benefits – I say that as someone who has no stake in the independence campaign and simply approaches this from an academic perspective.

  • I can’t claim any significant political knowledge however I wouldn’t trust any politician to be honest and balanced, whether for or against independence. All the people living and able to vote in Scotland need the real facts to make a genuine informed choice. Access to solid research and facts, which includes both pros and cons (as independence undoubtedly will, as all things do, contain an element of both). I hope the debate also includes honest discussion in relation to complexity of the transition, no cover up or romanticising which could leave people in Scotland unprepared for any rough ride which may arise. I would feel much more confident in supporting Scottish independence if all the potential pitfalls were an accepted part of the discussion, ie overcoming possible intermediate problems of being or not being part of the EU, Impact of currency change, future considerations of benefits, NHS funding, etc huge issues to debate. And please let’s uproot any association of Scottish independence being associated with an anti-English mentality, anti-‘Westminster’ is far preferable, I would not wish the potential strengths of an independent Scotland to be tarnished with, what can at times, verge on a thinly veiled racism, this is not a positive foundation for what potentially may be the re-birth of a Nation. Ties across the UK should be promoted and will be hugely beneficial, to all concerned, if the Yes vote wins. Let the Independence debate focus more on Scotland seeking to gain full responsibility for its future, a genuine pride in its culture and natural resources, uproot all notion of any negative nationalistic divide, and let’s get all the facts on the table, nothing hidden under the carpet, and let the best way forward for Scotland win x

  • A very informative article including the facts and statistics but the question still remains as why people are still in two minds?

    After finishing work on my way home I asked one of my colleague as what he thinks of the referendum in September?
    I think this is one of the best answers I have heard till now so without much thought he says “At a time when countries are fighting wars to get their Sovereignty back Scotland can just get it by voting YES”
    You can only plan and think about the future but it takes years to build an ideal nation.

  • With climate change, around half of England will be under water. The solution to rising sea levels is to build expensive sea walls around their coastline. That, however, doesn’t solve all their problems. They have huge areas of internal flooding due to increasing rainfall. They have had a policy of building on flood plains for years and it’s all coming back to haunt them. The costs of solving these problems is enormous.
    The question for us is not, can we prosper in an independent Scotland. The question is, can we afford to be tied to England with their spiraling internal costs and out of control foreign policy of attacking everyone that the USA tells them to.
    Vote YES for a Nation that makes its own decisions for the good of its people.

  • […] oil, water and whisky’. For some of cautious mind the Yes campaigns assertion that we’d be the 8th wealthiest country in the world seems unfathomable. If this is true – so Lesley Riddoch has argued – this leaves people feeling […]

  • […] Originally Posted by Deveron Can someone post confirmed documentation that proves these figures are wrong. Putting into context we pay more taxes per head as well, but we get less back as a percentage tahn we put in. 10 key economic facts that prove Scotland will be a wealthy independent nation : Business for Scotla… […]

  • has enybody noticed,that amongst other projects the massive mileage of motorway England has compared to Scotland,wales,and Ireland. also all the new building projects, it shows, how Scotland,has been subsidising England over the years.”the thames barrier etc,etc.We are the only nation in the world that has oil deposits and got poorer.

  • I am a simple man. My head is hurting from the facts figures and graphs. However I have to say Facebook seems to be the place for information on the independence campaign. Ask yourself the following question : Did you vote for either party currently running the UK? if the answer is yes read no more. Now for those that didn’t vote for the liberal democrats or conservative parties ask yourself the following question. Why would Westminster want to preserve the UK as a whole entity? I think preserve would be a very appropriate word. To preserve something is to keep something for longer than its natural existence. Now why would the UK government want to keep a nation that gets more than any other part of the UK. Makes you wonder why they want to keep us really maybe there is an alternative reason what could it be?

  • Id like to know more on schools,what help for the elderly, medical , housing, illegal imagrants as these cost us thousands on housing them education, benifits .

    • Gill, illegal immigrants cost nothing to house, school or in benefits. They’re illegal. They can’t claim any of the above. They do cost in terms of driving wages down, taking low paid work and lost tax revenue.

      You may be confusing them with asylum seekers who are legal and can claim/be educated/seek work.

  • I’d like to see more articles regarding finance and investment in an independent Scotland. There is no listing in the articles index for either “Finance” or “Investment”. There is reference in some of the articles (such as this one) to government investment to support industry and the economy but there has been no discussion so far about how Scotland’s financial sector and investment system could be reformed. Scottish workers’ pension funds are worth something in the region of £170 billion, maybe as much as £200 billion. However those funds are handed over for speculative securities trading (buying and selling of stocks and shares and other types of securitised assets) which does not contribute in any real way to wealth creation. These funds need to be put to better use in providing equity DIRECTLY to Scottish businesses. In exchange for direct equity investment the pension funds can negotiate binding contractual agreements with enterprise leaders about the sharing of cash flows created by successful enterprise strategy. There is no need to rely on securities markets to intermediate the relationship between pension funds, which are biggest investment funds we have, and the real wealth creating economy.
    It is a real surprise that a business organisation has not yet put finance and investment in a dynamic, independent Scottish economy on its agenda.

    • I agree with your comment and am intrigued how the UK debt can be paid by speculative investing. It surprised me that being a tax payer I have to pay this debt but to whom? I looked online and was even more surprised to find that I am one of those people that is due some of this debt. I served in HM forces and received an index linked pension and am therefore due some of this debt that we all owe. I won’t receive it till I am of pensionable age. My and everyone that owes the debt to the UK Plc. if you will is owed this to unknown people. These are investors on countries national debt which we must pay back plus interest. These are sold in the form of gilts and are sold on behalf of the government by the Bank of England. The UK government seem to me no better than the Scottish government in dealing with these issues. It seems that although we can invest our money with pension companies or through national debt the only winner is the person owed the invested money. Be that in the form of speculative investing or in the form of gilts they are the ones having 100% return plus interest. Personally I feel its time for change a fresh start if you will. As far as I am concerned UK Plc. Can keep my share of debt and continue investing it as they see fit.

  • Hi there, I’m just wondering what would happen if the USA pulled Britain in to another war the likes of Iraq, after Scotland win the independent vote (here’s hoping). Would Scotland be obliged to join them?
    I think if every scot was to read the work you’ve done, we would be on our way to a better Scotland..
    Keep up the great work.

    • If we vote no our troops are still under Westminster Control – were there to be some form of Devo max (i don’t believe there ever will be) then our troops would be under Westminster control.

      Once we vote yes our troops are under Scottish control and if the Scottish Parliament doesn’t agree with international action then our troops will not have to take part. However if anyone were to agrees against any of our allies including the rest of the UK our treaties of mutual defence would commit us to going to their aid. So if anyone attacks our friends in the rest of the UK they also attack us but if rUK decides to illegally attack another nation (gulf war 2 etc) we would not have to participate.

  • Excellent article – informed analysis which provides a real platform on why Scotland can be confident of its future following a Yes vote. Keep it going!

  • Once more an excellent article, this site is indeed becoming an invaluable resource. Wouldn’t hurt to add twitter and facebook buttons for ease of sharing though. 🙂

    • The Facebook and Twitter buttons are at the bottom of the blog and this article has had 14,000 Facebook likes in the last 48 hours. We will try a few blogs with the buttons at the top to see how that works as well thanks.

  • Could you explain how your facts? State that Scotland can save Billions of Pounds yet you tell me that we would only? Be £1 worse off?

  • Scotland helped spend and create the dept so we should have to keep paying untill its payed off. I am a proud scot i live in scotland i work throughout the whole of the uk but i still belive 100% that we are better together rather than sign up to someones ego and hatred of all things British/ English. i hope the no vote wins hands down and we can rid scotland of the snp’s republican views, And salmond should be brought to task for wasting scottish money on his ego trip.

    • That is just not the case, Scotland was operating a surplus less our share of the UK debt. Business for Scotland research proved this and this has been confirmed by leading economists

      Also SNP is not republican they want to keep the Queen as head of state. There is no hated of Britishness of Englishness in evidence in the YES campaign, in fact there is a zero tolerance attitude towards it.

      Your obvious hatred of the FM seems politically motivated and there are many many people such as socialists, Denis Canavan the chair of the YES campaign the Greens, Labour for indy and the right wing Wealthy Nation movement campaigning for independence and none will vote for Salmond after a yes vote.

      Our stance is that any party of any colour running Scotland after independence with Scotland’s interests at heart will be better than any government of any colour making decisions that effect Scotland with the best interests of London and the South East at heart.

      Your stance seems to be driven my multiple inaccuracies – please study the facts and then make up your mind – it would be a shame to vote without the facts.

    • SNP were given a mandate to have a referendum, when they got a majority in the Scottish elections.
      How can you say he should be brought to task? Is the opposite not true?

  • Thanks for this. Do you know what will happen to Scotland’s portion of the UK’s current debt interest (point 4) in an independent Scotland. Unless it’s written off (which seems unlikely) this will still be a burden.

    • This all depends on what the rest of the UK decides to do. If they wish to continue as the same state, ie a successor state, still the United Kingdom then all debts are theirs and there have been precedences set for this. If they wish to become a different state then we would be liable for a population percentage.
      There was a great article written by an econimist on this subject but I can’t find a link at the moment.

    • Scotland already pays its share of the National Debt out of the revenues it pays to the U.K. treasury. Scotland should only be expected to accept its fair share of the national debt. This would be approx. 8.49% in line with its population share; and since there should be a small reduction from this figure to cover its share of the National Assets that it would have to relinquish upon independence, it would be a bit less than that. With the additional revenues it will have through leaving no surplus with London, it could clear its debt in less than 10 years. This is unlike the U.K. where the debt has been steadily increasing.

    • It is very difficult to say what Scotland’s debt would be. However, GERS has estimated, with a population share, Scotland’s share of debt would be £92 billion which is 62% of estimated GDP, but using an estimated fiscal balance, the debt would be £56 billion, which is 38% of Scotland’s GDP. Many different totals can be calculated using different assumptions

  • Interesting but can someone from the website answer the following questions:
    Is defence spending counted solely as UK expenditure outwith Scotland? If so, why? If not, what is your methodology for separating that out, that is, what do you count as Scotland’s share?
    Secondly, the figures you cite: 9.3 v. 9.9 are percentages.
    What are the actual numbers? Percentages don’t really tell you much without knowing the hard figures.

  • Mark Dankool – I’m really surprised when I read remarks like yours about First Minister Salmond. He has never been caught out lying despite the furore Andrew Neil fomented regarding the EU and has been cleared 6 times of misleading our Holyrood Parliament! To dislike a politician for his persona or appearance or mannerism is illogical. How do you compare him with David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson or Willie Rennie? I supported Labour for 50 years until the Iraq war and changed to supporting the SNP who I have to say have done much good for Scotland and its people – consider inward investment in recent years only beaten by London! Regardless of our difference of opinion I’m delighted you’ll be voting YES – we need control of our own resources to bring a better life to people in Scotland

  • There are too many unknowns apart from the economy. We wouldn’t have a health service, army, navy, postal service or currency for a start!!

    • The postal service has already been privatised. It’s gone. And postage to the highlands and islands of scotland is under threat. The Nhs is deteriorating and having to deal with huge cutbacks. To save the NHS a more socialist leaning government is required and this is most likely by voting Yes and allowing Scotland to have it’s own helath service.

  • Great article, but would it be possible to amend it slightly to give more details of the sources of the figures mentioned? I’d like to share this, but I’d rather do so with a full list of sources attached – makes my argument to my indy-sceptic friends more water-tight
    Thanks, and keep up the good work

  • We need to hear more positive comments like those above and to make them more available to the general public instead of the scare stories in the press etc.

  • SHOUT it from the rooftops.People need to know Scotland should be in control of it s own wealth.We are rich in Exports Been saying this for months now.Please do not IGNORE.
    Lisa Scott.

    • Some people may choose not to buy or visit any more. The Barnett formula would disappear. As of November 2014, the oil price has fallen to $80 per barrel.

  • Great article but one glaring omission – what are the figures if you strip out oil income? I don’t want to build a house on sand

    • Would you like us to remove tourism – food and drink – the whole agriculture sector? Why on earth would you remove oil income?

      If you you do, you find that Scotland’s GDP per head is almost exactly the same as the average for England. But then if you take oil and finance out of England’s economy then Scotland jumps way ahead again in GDP per head terms.

      There are between 50 and 60 years of oil revenues left and the creation of an oil fund to invest in renewables and re-industrialising Scotland is a plan that can only be implemented with independence – vote no and the plan for renewing Scotland’s economy when oil runs out does not exist. With independence we can build a foundation for the future but with a No vote we will continue to have our wealth and investment stripped from us and all that will be left when the oil runs out is shifting sands.

      2012 was a record year for investment in the North Sea – see this from todays Herald – BP eyes major new Shetland investment | Herald Scotland

      Do you know the the MOD has blocked oil exploration in the West as it would interrupt nuclear submarine operations? Government confirms independence could generate west coast oil bonanza!

      Also covered in the Scotsman but they gave their front page to the Nigella court case – A west coast oil boom or Nigela – what matters most to Scotland?

      you may also be interested in this – 10 facts about Scotland’s oil and independence

      Running out of oil isn’t the problem, the problem is that Westminster has no plans for Scotland after oil runs out.

      • Why remove oil?

        Because if we extract all of that oil the Scottish Government will not be able to meet its climate change targets.

      • Furthermore be aware that when the oil runs out THAT is when we will be encouraged to go for independence, if we are stupid enough to vote NO this time

      • “Why on earth would you remove oil income?” In order to decide if we can afford to be independent without pumping all that stored carbon into the atmosphere, further exacerbating climate change. Which is just as much of a risk to an independent Scotland as it would be if we remained part of the UK. I think investing in renewables is an excellent idea. I think extracting oil to pay for it is as daft as trying to extinguish a fire by throwing petrol at it. I’d like to see a plan for independence that doesn’t rely on us helping to screw ourselves (and the rest of the planet) over in the long run. Having said that, Wilma’s point holds true – the minute we have no oil to contribute (or elect not to extract it for reasons of self-preservation), then Westminster will be happy to be shot of us.

        • Please don’t be naive enough to think that all oil and gas is burnt as fuel, we need hydrocarbons for our plastics, pharmaceuticals and so on. It’s not just for liquid fuels.

  • this is a great document but it needs to be in printed form, i will try and print this as theres a few people i would want to read it, this should be distributed to people who are not so well informed and who are not interested in doing the online research or just do not use internet.

    • We will be publishing quite a lot of papers in the coming months available in hard and soft copy.

      • Hi Gordon. No typos spotted this time 😉

        As you’ll know, I create indy campaign materials such as posters, flyers and postcards and make them available for download and printing from my website.

        I’d like to use the text and data from this article in a new campaign leaflet and make this available for printing by local campaign groups. Would you or Michael have any objections to my doing this?


  • This type of publication must, must, must be put to a mainstream audience who do not necessarily get their news online.

  • Very good.

    Perhaps including actual oil price on 7) for the years avalable would provide some illumination of how accurate the predictions are, or not. Particularly BT’s favoured OBR predictor.

    10) has a typo in the title. ‘Scottish’ should be ‘Scotland’

    Tidal power is an inexhaustable rather than a renewable and its non weather dependent predictability, combined with (nearly non weather dependent) HE storage means it does not need fossil or nuclear backup – a huge financial saving.

  • I live in England, and I can’t for the life of me understand, why the people of Scotland would want to send all there wealth down to Westminster, and then wait for pocket money.

    You have such an opportunity at in your finger tips, all you have to do is see through the disinformation from the MSM and the Unionist parties.

    Please vote YES, as this will give me the incentive to return to the place I was born, and participate in a more just society (2 years old when my parents move to England).

    Sites like this give people the true state of the economic argument.

    Well done Business for Scotland.

  • I think yes we need our country back but not with Alex Salmond leading I just don’t trust him I’m only voting yes for independence but next vote I’ll vote against mr salmond

    • Me too Mark, I’m voting Yes but not SNP. We need to get it over to people that a Yes vote isn’t an Alex Salmond vote or an SNP vote

      • I think the difficulty is that whilst it looks as though Scotland could thrive in independence, which is fantastic, I can’t see any credible political leaders to make it happen. A problem I think Scotland needs to overcome.

        • That may or may not be true, but I think ours, however bad, are better than that shower at Westminster.

        • If that’s the case then why are there so many Scottish politicians in Westminster maybe some will defect and remember that it does not have to be the present party in power…there will be an election.

      • We also need to get it across that a vote for No isn’t a vote for David Cameron or the Tories. The proliferation of facebook status’ claiming we should vote Yes to get rid of Cameron but shouldn’t vote No because of Salmond is hypocritical and hugely damaging to the Yes campaign. As an undecided voter I find the militancy of the Yes voters to be the biggest turn off – facts and calm rational arguments are what will persuade me.

        • Well you have come to the right place if you want economics and business centred arguments and not militancy – if you want to go further right then go to they think the Tories are left wing. So the truth is that just as there are many voices from different parts of the political spectrum now there will also be many different voices in an independent Scotland.

          The one difference is that politics won’t be so tribal as we will all be on the same side.


    • I think that’s probably the single most important point. Why do they? And they are desperate..

  • Well done, great report. In a time such as this, when most of the news forced upon us is full of nay saying and scaremongering, it makes me happy to see a report detailing why a Yes vote is the right vote (of which there are no shortage). Clear, condense facts, and easy to digest. Well done.

  • This only goes to confirm my thoughts that we can and will be far better off on our own . Westminster have attempted to bleed this nation dry for years , and will continue to do so until we have nothing left . The time is now , it has to be Yes in September .

    • I have no doubt Scotland will be financially better off with independence but money isn’t the only benefit. The increase in morale, the upsurge in our national pride as we are perceived around the world as a nation in its own right and not one being represented by West Minsters disastrous foreign policies, will help us as we increase our exports.
      I will feel a lot better knowing my tax is going to build a better Scotland than going South to pay for the West Minster wine club.

  • Keep going Business for Scotland. It’s articles such as the above which will counter the fear and scaremongering-agenda of the Better Together camp. Simply brilliant!

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