How big is Scotland’s deficit compared to the UK as a whole?

Published: 3rd Nov 2017

In brief

Claim

The deficit in Scotland is three times that of the UK as a whole.

Conclusion

This is correct as a proportion of GDP, whether or not revenue from the North Sea is included. In monetary terms, the UK deficit is larger.

“The short answer to the lady's question really is that the deficit in Scotland is three times, over three times what it is in the UK as a whole, and this has been a high spending country.”

Anne McElvoy, 2 November 2017

As a proportion of GDP the Scottish deficit was more than three times that of the UK as a whole.

The deficit in Scotland was 8% including the North Sea, and excluding it was 9%. This compares to a deficit of 2.3% for the UK as a whole.

Excluding revenue and spending from the North Sea the Scottish deficit has been larger than the UK’s as a proportion of GDP for at least the last 20 years. Including the North Sea the UK and Scottish deficits were last at the same level (7.1%) in 2011/12, but since then the UK deficit has become smaller, while the Scottish deficit has stayed broadly the same.

In monetary terms Scotland had a deficit of around £13 billion in 2016/17. That’s whether or not revenue and spending from the North Sea is included.  The UK deficit was larger, at £46 billion.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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