The figures showed that government spending in Scotland fell by a record £1bn to £97.5bn last year, mainly due to a decline in funding for Covid support schemes. However, it remained at an all-time high and average public spending per person was £17,793 in Scotland last year, compared to £15,830 in the UK.
Tax revenue, including a geographical share of the North Sea, averaged £13,463 per person north of the border, compared to a UK figure of £13,684. Oil and gas revenues rose by £800m to £3.5bn as prices soared.
Last year’s report showed a total Union dividend of £2,210 per person, but this has been revised down to £1,925, making the 2021/22 figure a new all-time high of £2,184.Read:Iain Duncan Smith ‘astonished’ as man accused of ‘slamming’ cone on his head cleared over ‘weak’ evidence
Mr Swinney argued that Scotland recovered more quickly from the pandemic as the deficit fell by 10.3 percentage points compared to an 8.4 point decline in the UK.
He downplayed the importance of Scotland’s high deficit, saying: “Every country must manage sustainable public finances, but an independent country would, of course, have a much wider range of fiscal flexibility at their disposal than we currently have under devolution arrangements.
“Most countries in Western Europe have significant budget deficits based on the aftermath of Covid.”
David Phillips, associate director at the IFS, said Scotland’s headline deficit could shrink to “a similar or even lower level than the UK as a whole for the first time in more than 10 years” in 2022/23, thanks to rising oil prices. and gas revenues.Read:Driver arrested as man dies after being hit by car
“But the prolonged decline in North Sea output means that even if these higher prices persist, they would at best give the government of an independent Scotland more time to boost economic growth and land revenues,” he added. .
“Without it, an independent Scotland would likely still face bigger tax hikes or cuts for decades to come.”