North Sea Oil: Taxation

House of Lords written question – answered on 28th July 2014.

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Photo of Lord Barnett Lord Barnett Labour

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Office for Budget Responsibility's revised forecasts of the tax revenues from North Sea oil; what is their estimate of the fiscal implications of those revised forecasts for an independent Scotland; whether they expect tax revenues from North Sea oil to recover; and, if so, when.

Photo of Lord Deighton Lord Deighton The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury

The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has set out the basis for its forecasts of oil and gas tax revenues in the Fiscal Sustainability Report. The forecast shows that these tax receipts, as a share of GDP, are set to decline by 84 per cent over the forecast period. The government has not made a separate assessment of these forecasts.

The OBR has not published an assessment of what the fiscal position of a separate Scotland would be. However, other independent experts have estimated that in 2016-17, a separate Scotland would have a deficit (per person) of more than twice that of the UK.

HM Treasury has estimated that each person in Scotland is £1,400 a year better off in the UK. That’s equivalent to around two thirds of the total NHS budget in Scotland, or almost as much as Scotland’s entire education budget.

The OBR’s new, lower, oil and gas tax receipts forecast only make a separate Scotland’s fiscal position tougher. In the UK, as part of a larger country, we can pool resources and share risks. This means that public spending in Scotland can remain secure and stable, even as revenues from oil and gas are volatile.

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