Scotland runs up £15bn deficit twice size of UK’s –

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a welcome address to the 81st Annual SNP conference at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference centreNicola Sturgeon told voters during the independence referendum there would be another oil boom  Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

For the first time in more than three decades, Scottish tax revenue per head not more than the UK figure while spending north of the Border remained £1,400 per person higher.

Ms Sturgeon blamed the collapse in the oil price and UK Government “mismanagement” of the North Sea. Reiterating her support for independence, she also argued it was better to consider Scotland’s financial position over the past decade than in one financial year alone.

But next year’s oil revenues are expected to be far worse, with Scottish Government figures showing the total income fell from £1.8 billion in 2014/15 to only £55 million in the first half of 2015/16.

The First Minister also argued the drop would be more than offset by an increase in onshore economic activity, but even on this measure the Gers report found Scotland was lagging behind the rest of the UK.

An offshore oil rigNext year?s oil revenues are expected to be far worse

She did not take into account increasing public expenditure, with the figures showing that benefit and social protection spending in Scotland rose by £700 million in 2014/15 to £22.8 billion.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Cameron said: “On the day that the profit-and-loss account comes out for Scotland, you can see there is a £15 billion gap that Scotland would face if it was outside the United Kingdom.

“I dread to think what taxation would have to be levied, not just on whisky but on petrol, on work, on income on homes. That’s the prospect of life outside the United Kingdom. That’s why I’m so glad we voted to stay together.”

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative finance spokesman, said the figures “shed new light on the SNP’s deception before the referendum.”

He added: “Had their con succeeded, we would now be only 15 days away from separating the most successful political union in history in favour of a leap into the dark.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said: “People were misled by the SNP in the run-up to the referendum and that is unforgivable.”

The Gers report showed tax revenue averaged £9,986 per person in Scotland, £26 lower than the UK figure. Ms Sturgeon praised a 3.2 per cent increase in onshore receipts, although this was less than the UK figure of four per cent partly thanks to slower growth in capital gains tax.

However, total Scottish revenues fell by £607 million compared to the previous year thanks to a 55 per cent drop in North Sea receipts. Public spending in Scotland was £12,800 per person compared with £11,400 in the UK as a whole.

This meant that Scotland’s deficit was £14.9 billion in 2014/15, up from £13.4 billion the previous year. It accounted for 8.2 per cent of UK tax revenues and 9.3 per cent of spending, a figure that has barely changed over recent years despite the decline in the North Sea.

A view over EdinburghScotland’s deficit was £14.9 billion in 2014/15, up from £13.4 billion the previous year

Lord Dunlop, a Scotland Office Minister, said the report demonstrated “the value of the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom” to Scotland.

But, speaking at a briefing in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “Scotland has contributed £300 billion in oil revenues to the Treasury in the lifetime of North Sea oil and gas.

“Is it a sign of the broad shoulders of the UK that today, when the oil and gas sector is facing the challenges that it is facing, that we are sitting without an oil fund that has been built up over the good years of oil and gas?”

She added: “I would take the opposite view. What we are talking about here today is at least in part an indictment of the mismanagement by the UK of Scotland’s finances and our oil revenues in particular.”

Ms Sturgeon denied public spending was too high north of the Border and argued more powers for Scotland would provide “more ability to grow and diversify our tax base”.

Scotland runs up £15bn deficit twice size of UK’s –