Scottish deficit nears £15bn as oil and gas revenues sink

North Sea revenue fell from over �10.9bn in 2011-12 to under �4.8bn in 2013-14
North Sea revenue fell from over �10.9bn in 2011-12 to under �4.8bn in 2013-14

Scotland’s deficit reached almost £15 billion in the last financial year after revenues from North Sea oil and gas fell by more than 50%, figures have revealed.

The Scottish Government published its latest data on revenue and expenditure, which showed a deficit of £14.9bn for 2014-15 when a geographic share of North Sea revenues is allocated to Scotland.

That amounts to 9.7% of Scottish GDP, compared with the overall UK deficit of 4.9% of GDP.

North Sea revenue fell from more than £10.9bn in 2011-12 to less than £4.8bn in 2013-14, before dropping to £2.25bn last year, according to the data.

Opposition parties said the statistics highlighted the “devastating impact” a vote for Scottish independence would have had, with the country’s finances impacted by a “volatile and unpredictable source of income”.

But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted “the foundations of Scotland’s economy are strong”, and stressed Scotland’s onshore economy is “doing well”, with revenue growth of 3.2%.

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures also showed that income from tax was £10,000 per person - that included a geographic share of oil revenue. It represented 8.2% of revenue, slightly below the UK figure.

In every previous year, Scottish tax receipts per person have been higher than in the rest of the UK.

Expenditure was £12,800 per person, or 9.3%; £1,400 per person more than the UK average.

Scotland Office minister Andrew Dunlop said: “These figures show that Scotland is facing challenging economic times, in particular because of the drop in oil price, and demonstrate the value of the broad shoulders of the United Kingdom.”