Devolved “deficits”?

Devolved accounts – net fiscal balances

Scotland                (2014-15): population 5.4 M, deficit £14.9 Bn =  9.7% of GDP.
Wales                     (2014-15): population 3.1 M, deficit £14.7 Bn = 23.9% of GDP.
Northern Ireland   (2014-15): population 1.8 M, deficit  £9.0 Bn = 27.0% of GVA.

Total Devolved deficit:  £38.6 Billion for 10.3 million people.

Total UK deficit is:  £67.6 Billion for 64.1 million people = 4.9% GDP.

So figures from HM Treasury used to produce the GERS, GERW and (GERNI) show that the devolved 16% population ran up 57% of UK deficit in 2014-15.

Scotland: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/03/3692

Wales: http://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/wgc/files/2016/04/Government-Expenditure-and-Revenue-Wales-2016.pdf

Northern Ireland from here (under maintenance): https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/estimates-publications

(previous years): https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/northern-ireland-net-fiscal-balance-report-2012-13-and-2013-14

England: no accounts available

Current year 2015-16 for Scotland: deficit £14.8 billion (9.5 per cent of GDP).

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/08/2132

Opinion: So 16% population ran up 57% of UK deficit in 2014-15? Really?

  1. Is this actually true?
  2. If it is true, why does England not have a devolved Parliament to fight its corner?
  3. Why can we not get a GERE – the illustrative accounts of England – to check it out?

So – how accurate is GERS itself?

GERS follows the “ESA” standard of accounting, but by “ESA” in GERS is currently meant ESA95 also known as 1995 ESA as followed by the UK Treasury and the ONS (Office for National Statistics). The current EU approved implementation of ESA since 2014 is ESA2010. The UK along with some other EU countries currently has at least a partial derogation (in this case delay in full implementation).

. . . but the further detail will only be available in 2017.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/guide-method/method-quality/specific/economy/national-accounts/articles/2011-present/update-to-asset-classifications-under-esa2010.pdf

Also: “The revised standards will change the way in which National Accounts and Balance of Payments across the EU Member States are produced and bring them into line with the updated worldwide System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA 2008) already adopted by other parts of the world including Canada, the United States and Australia.”

Current version of the EU ESA standards: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/esa-2010

Since September 2014, ESA95 has been replaced by ESA 2010.

Opinion: It will be interesting to see what changes this may bring. Remember, it is the UK implementing this, which should mean more detailed statistics being available to the Scottish Government statisticians who produce GERS to the best of their ability from estimated information made available to them – that information as supplied by the UK Treasury. As Andrew Hughes Hallet, recently appointed to the Scottish Government’s Fiscal Commission correctly pointed out, GERS does not conform to these international or EU standards.


An interesting webpage stored for future use:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/public-expenditure-statistical-analyses-pesa

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