The latest edition of the Country and Regional Analysis calculates that in 2013-14 total identifiable expenditure on services in Scotland was 15% higher than the UK average. Once the Smith agreement has been implemented, changes in Scottish Government funding will increasingly come from changes in Scottish taxes rather than as a result of the Barnett formula.
If we translate that into English, we find that more than £2,000 less per person is spent on people in the east midlands—including my constituents in Wellingborough—than is spent on people in Scotland, yet my constituents pay exactly the same taxes. Does the Minister think that that is fair and just?
There is no consensus on what the solution should be. The Barnett formula has been in place for some time. In future, however, more than 50% of funding will come from Scottish taxes rather than from the block grant, and the Barnett formula will therefore become less important over time.
The Government are very keen to focus on public spending, but not so keen to talk about tax contributions. People in Scotland have paid more, on average, for more than three decades. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the public expenditure cuts in Scotland, on top of the tax credit cuts for working people, will mean that the poorest in those communities will suffer the most? Given that Scotland has rejected the Secretary of State’s austerity programme, when will he give the Scottish Parliament powers to choose a different path?
We are giving the Scottish Parliament the powers to follow a different route. Perhaps it is time the SNP explained how it would use those powers, rather than constantly complaining about wanting more powers. On hurting the poorest, full fiscal autonomy, which would cost the Scottish people £10 billion a year, would hurt the poorest in Scotland.