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Thread: Scotland is Most Affluent Country in Britain

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    Scotland is Most Affluent Country in Britain

    Jason Allardyce and Julia Belgutay

    Scotland is now the most affluent country in the UK, according to a study which reveals that a decade of devolution has produced higher wages and less poverty and unemployment than in England.

    The report, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, suggests the so-called north-south divide, which previously characterised Scotland as the poorer relation, has been reversed. Scotland has fewer families living below the breadline, more people in work and higher levels of income than Wales, Northern Ireland and most English regions.

    The changes have prompted renewed calls for an end to the preferential funding formula which gives Scots 20% higher public spending than those south of the border.

    Despite Labour’s pledge to halve the level of child poverty across Britain by the end of this year, the report shows the proportion of children in low-income households in England fell from 25.2% in 1999, when it was the lowest in the UK, to only 22.1% in 2008.

    Over the same period, child poverty in Scotland fell from 28.2% to 19.6%.

    The proportion of Scots and English as a whole in poverty was the same (24%) in 1999 but fell by only one point in England compared with five in Scotland. The highest levels of poverty are now found in the West Midlands, where 21% of people live below the breadline, a one-point rise in the past decade.

    Since 1999 Scotland went from having the second-highest number of pensioners on low income in all 12 of the UK’s nations and regions to having the second lowest. England, which suffered from less unemployment than Scotland before devolution, now has proportionately more, with Scotland’s larger public sector accounting for more state-supported posts. Low pay is also less of a problem in Scotland than almost all of the 12 nations and regions of the UK.

    Jim McCormick, the report’s author, said that while the improvements reflected wider economic trends and policies reserved to Westminster rather than the effectiveness of devolution, they would have been helped by Scotland’s higher share of spending.

    Peter Bone, the Conservative MP for Wellingborough, said the Barnett formula, which has traditionally given Scotland a more generous share of UK public spending, based on perceived greater need, should be scrapped.

    “Everyone pays the same taxes so public expenditure should be on a fair basis,” he said. “Scotland has done very well, so it shouldn’t be subsidised. There is a danger to the union if extremists in England start saying, why is Scotland getting all this money? The Barnett formula needs to be looked at again."

    Mark Wallace, campaign director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, described the 30-year-old formula, which gives Scots £1,567 more per head, as “outdated and inappropriate”.

    He added: “There have long been serious problems with the heavy subsidies paid to Scotland but there has been a political paralysis, which means that the issue is not something the parties at Westminster have wanted to face up to.

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    The previous two Labour prime ministers and last four Labour leaders were Scottish - Tony Blair (Scottish), Gordon Brown (Scottish), John Smith (Scottish) and Neil Kinock (Scottish), New Labour is rammed with Scots, the biggest part of the Labour party are Anglophobic Celts. Is it any wonder Scotland has done well out of a Labour government? Scotland is such a safe socialist Labour seat that other parties often don't bother putting up candidates. Scotland will vote Labour this year even as Labour lose by a landslide to the Conservatives in England, because Labour is about redistributing wealth and for scots that means redistributing English taxpayer's money into the pockets of Scots.

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