The new UK Chancellor has set out his radical fiscal plans – and prompted a sterling crisis. The situation is so grave, not least for Scotland, it merits a return from us in the interests of a wider public policy debate. Here we republish commentary from the FAI – and expect to run further contributions this autumn.
“The report, the launch, the minutes of the Advisory Council meetings – all point to a ‘just get it done and get it out’ approach. And as with previous, failed, economic strategies it will go through various hoops of progress reports and ‘accountability’ that are underplayed and soon forgotten. But without anyone taking real ownership, without a genuine attempt to identify and plan a way forward, little will change.”
‘Clearly the political and institutional landscape has changed dramatically since 2014. One inescapable fact about any future debate on the economic case for Scottish independence is that the terrain – by which we mean the political, economic, social and cultural context – has shifted significantly.’
“A core resource block grant in 2022/23 that is 8% higher than pre-pandemic might sound generous, but to deal with the pandemic’s legacy and underlying public services pressures it is anything but. In this context, Kate Forbes’ third budget may well be her most challenging.”
“today’s numbers set the starting point for a discussion about the choices and challenges that need to be addressed by those advocating independence or new fiscal arrangements. It is not enough to say ‘everything will be fine’ or ‘look at this country, they can run a sensible fiscal balance so why can’t Scotland?’. Concrete proposals and ideas are needed.”
“The manifestos have fallen short on the level of financial detail behind their plans.” And so has the debate. Parties need to be more transparent about their fiscal options…
In a special guest blog, Sir Tom Hunter, whose eponymous Foundation commissioned the recent Raising Scotland’s Economic Growth Rate report from Oxford Economics, underlines how Scotland’s economy lags behind and needs radical change to catch up and rediscover its innovative dynamism.
‘The scheme will apparently operate ‘UK wide, using the new financial assistance powers in the UK Internal Market Bill’. Whilst the fine details are awaited, the lack of explicit reference to the devolved governments will antagonise intergovernmental relations in area where tensions are already running high.’
The Scottish Government Economic Advisory Group report has been criticised for being light on specifics. Tim Bell draws on a far older model for building a new order.
“This lack of economic engagement by senior SNP Ministers remains a weakness for the independence message on the economy. Such a policy vacuum in a key area of the independence debate may be manageable when minds are focussed elsewhere but if a Second Referendum were to become a reality then it would soon turn into a significant weak point in the pro-independence argument.”