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Public spending £1,500 higher in Scotland than UK average, figures show

Published 17/11/2016

Expenditure on services amounted to £10,536 per person in Scotland in 2015-16, compared to the UK average of £9,076
Expenditure on services amounted to £10,536 per person in Scotland in 2015-16, compared to the UK average of £9,076

Public spending in Scotland is almost £1,500 per person higher than the UK average.

Figures from the Treasury show e xpenditure on services amounted to £10,536 per person north of the border in 2015-16, compared to the UK average of £9,076.

The only part of the UK where spending per head was higher was Northern Ireland, where it amounted to £10,983.

The average for England was £8,816 per person, although this rose to £10,129 in London, while in Wales spending on services was the equivalent of £9,956 for each person.

A more detailed breakdown of the figures shows health spending in Scotland last year amounted to £2,258 per person, the highest of the four nations of the United Kingdom.

Scotland also had the highest spending per head on education, at £1,470 per person, and on environmental protection, where it amounted to £258 per person.

Northern Ireland had the highest level of expenditure per person on public order and safety at £688.

Pro-UK politicians argued the figures, which looked at public expenditure by country and region, shows Scotland benefits from being in the union.

But a Scottish Government spokesman insisted they show a "commitment to invest in front-line public services" north of the border.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: " Public spending in Scotland is higher than the rest of the UK - now by almost £1,500 per person per year - despite a rising budget deficit on the Scottish Government's watch.

"This illustrates the value to Scotland of being part of a strong, broad-shouldered United Kingdom."

Similarly, Scottish Labour's Westminster spokesman Ian Murray said: " These figures confirm that being part of the UK means there is more money to spend on public services like schools and the NHS in Scotland.

"Even the SNP's own numbers show that leaving the UK would mean spending cuts and tax rises worth at least £15 billion a year over and above those already being imposed by the Tories.

"Independence would put at risk the life chances of future generations of Scots.

"Instead of trying to force another referendum on the people of Scotland, the SNP should focus on the day job of improving schools, sorting out the mess they have made of the trains, and fixing the NHS."

But a Scottish Government spokesman said: " The figures published today demonstrate the Scottish Government's commitment to invest in front-line public services.

"They show that spending on education in Scotland increased by 3.7% over the past year compared to a 2% fall across the UK. Likewise, health spending in Scotland increased by 4.6% in the year to March 2016 compared to growth of 3.4% across the UK."

He added: " Of course, these figures only describe one side of the equation when it comes to public finances - with no comparison for public sector revenues. Scottish revenue has been on average £630 per person a year higher than in the UK as a whole since devolution (1999-00).

"The UK Government's austerity policies are cutting the spending available for public services in Scotland. The UK Government has cut Scotland's discretionary budget by £2.4 billion in real terms since 2010-11 and it will be further cut by almost £1 billion in real terms between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

"This means that by 2019-20, the Scottish Government's discretionary budget will be 10.6% (£3.3 billion) lower in real terms than it was in 2010-11."

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