Mind the gap, Nicola! Scotland facing funding blow of hundreds of millions of pounds

IndyRef2: Sturgeon to unveil new plans in 'the coming weeks’

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Scotland’s First Minister has said she is “determined” Scots will be able to vote at a second referendum on Scottish independence by the end of 2023. The SNP leader has not said when legislation for an IndyRef2 might be introduced at the Scottish Parliament – but hinted a timetable could be revealed in the “coming weeks”. But Ms Sturgeon is continuing to come under attack, accused of continuing to focus on a “divisive” split from the UK as opposed to helping Scotland the economic crisis it finds itself in from the pandemic.

Last month a paper by CBI Scotland warned the country is lagging behind other parts of the UK in nine of the 13 productivity indicators – including business investment, exporting and innovation.

In its Budget Scrutiny report last week, forecasts from the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) showed the country’s income tax receipts falling behind the Block Grant Adjustment could threaten Scotland’s future fiscal sustainability.

Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden, who was previously Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, warned the funding gap could amount to hundreds of millions of pounds.

He told Express.co.uk: “We’re lagging behind on economic indicators but also evidence from Scottish Fiscal Commission shows that Scotland’s Income Tax receipts are also lagging behind the Bloc Grant Adjustment.

“If this comes to pass, Scotland could be facing a major funding gap totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.

“That is going to put even more pressure on public services and the solution is to ensure Scotland’s productivity increases, we focus on economic growth and the way to avoid doing that, is to pursue IndyRef2.

“The backdrop is a precarious economic situation.”

Last year, Scotland was warned its economy would shrink by at least £11billion a year if it became independent – more than doubling the damaging impacts of Brexit.

A report from the London School of Economics (LSE) and City University of Hong Kong found leaving the UK’s common market would hit the Scottish economy two to three times as hard as leaving the European Union.

The impacts on its trade with both the UK and the EU would see Scotland’s economy in the long run by between 6.3 percent and 8.7 percent, with the report suggesting the worst economic effects would take several decades to take hold.

Mr Golden further warned: “We know the process of a referendum causes individuals and businesses to withhold investment from experience going into 2014. People were worried and acted as you would expect them to do.

“If we are facing a funding gap, we know we’re facing an economic crisis, why on earth would any rational individual pursue a process that would hurt our economy?”

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A Scottish Government spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “As the SFC acknowledges, there is a lot of uncertainty over longer term trends which could impact on income tax receipts.

“Ultimately, the final position will only be known once outturn data on tax revenues becomes available.

“Our decisions on income tax since 2018-19 have raised additional revenue for successive Scottish budgets.

“That’s additional money that we’ve been able to invest in our NHS, schools, and tackling the climate emergency.”

Last weekend, Ms Sturgeon was asked during an interview with the BBC when legislation for a second Scottish independence referendum would be tabled.

She replied: “The preparatory work is underway right now – but we haven’t decided on the date when we would seek to introduce the bill.

“What I have said, and I will happily say again, is that my intention is to take the steps that will facilitate a referendum happening before the end of 2023.

“That’s the proposition, that just short of a year ago, I fought an election on and was reelected as First Minister.

“This is about democracy. It’s about allowing the people of Scotland to choose our own future.

“For goodness sake, when we look at everything that is happening – and has been happening for years now – at Westminster, the chaotic instability, the unpredictability, there are a growing number of people who think we could do better as an independent country.”

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