The latest Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures show Scotland’s fiscal position improved in 2016-17.
Overall, the notional deficit fell by £1.3 billion in 2016-17 to stand at 8.3% of GDP. Onshore revenues increased by £3.3 billion (6.1%) between 2015-16 and 2016-17 – the fastest increase since current records began in 1998-99 – while North Sea revenue also grew.
Speaking while visiting business start-up Aquila Biomedical, based at Edinburgh BioQuarter, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Scotland’s economy remains strong. In the last quarter, our economy grew nearly four times faster than the UK and the number of people in employment is at a record high.
“These figures reflect Scotland’s finances under current constitutional arrangements. However, they show that our investment in key industries – such as the life-science sector – is providing a real boost to our onshore economy. By continuing to invest in key sectors, we will ensure Scotland remains a productive and competitive country.
“The lower oil price had an impact on North Sea revenues and the wider economy last year. However, it is encouraging to see an improvement in the overall fiscal balance and that onshore revenues grew at their fastest rate in nearly twenty years.
“However, our long-term economic success is now threatened by Brexit, which risks reducing household incomes, employment and funding for public services. That is why we continue to press for the Scottish Government to have a direct role in Brexit negotiations.”
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay added:
“It is encouraging that our fiscal balance improved by nearly 10% last year. It is important to also recognise that ONS analysis shows that Scotland performs ahead of Wales, Northern Ireland and several English regions, and in line with the UK average outside of London and the south-east.
“Meanwhile, evidence also points to signs that confidence is increasing among North Sea operators, with the sector set to remain an important part of Scotland’s economy for years to come.
“An extreme Brexit outcome would do significant damage to Scotland’s public finances and would cost our economy up to £11 billion a year from 2030, and 80,000 jobs over a decade. We will continue to do all that we can with the powers available to us to grow our economy, protecting and creating jobs.”
Edinburgh BioQuarter includes the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and a number of life-science companies, alongside academic research institutes. Nine at the BioQuarter, which includes Aquila Biomedical, has 20 rapidly growing life-sciences businesses in one multiple occupancy building. Aquila provides clients with immuno-oncology research expertise, a new area of medicine focused on manipulating the immune response to target cancer tumours.
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