Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Scottish taxpayer and the English whine

A few weeks ago I tried to answer a claim made by William Gruff over on Nourishing Obscurity.

Mr Gruff had written:

The last time I looked at the figures there were just one hundred and sixty thousand or so net tax payers in Scotland, out of a population of five million
My reply went like this:
"There were 580,500 working in the public sector in the first quarter of 2007 – down 4,900 or 0.8% – compared to the same period last year.… It compares with almost two million workers who were employed in the private sector in Scotland in the first quarter of 2007."

Thanks to the Universality of Cheese I have been directed to this fascinating site from HMR&C.

It shows total taxpayers by regions and nations within the UK.

Scotland has 226,000 taxpayers in the last full fiscal year, not 160,000. Did you spot the deliberate mistake? That's 226,000 higher rate taxpayers in Scotland. The total number of all Scottish taxpayers is 2,590,000, which fits in with my earlier analysis.

I quoted higher rate taxpayer numbers to try and deal with the question of just who is a net taxpayer. Let's look at England. Total higher rate taxpayers down south are 2,660,000 out of 25,200,000 total taxpayers. So the Scottish and English numbers are pretty similar on a per capita basis. In other words, if only 160,000 Scots are net taxpayers it looks like the number for England would be about the same on a per-capita basis. Incidentally, note that the number of higher rate taxpayers in Scotland has risen by 35% since 1999/2000, while the equivalent rise in England was just 19%. And in the current tax year it is expected that numbers of higher rate taxpayers in Scotland will rise, but fall in England.

My case has never been that Scotland is some sort of economic superpower but that it is a boringly average part of the UK and indeed a boringly average part of Europe. It can survive perfectly well as an independent country.

The relentless anti-Scottish bile in the English media and blogosphere will probably lead to a split. As someone having both a Scottish and an English background I find that a bit sad. But enough is enough. I believe that independence is now inevitable. Bring it on. I'm staying.

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