There are many sectors of society in which uneven governance or funding are felt as a result of union with the United Kingdom. Here are some cold hard facts regarding Scotland's place within the UK, our financial record and potential, and our unique resources and services.
Economy and Taxes: Scotland generates 9.6% of all UK taxes, but receives 9.3% of UK spending. Over the past 30 years, Scotland's public finances have been stronger than the UK, accounting for a relative surplus of £19 billion.
The Office for National Statistics released figures early this year showing that the UK economy shrank by .2% in the fourth quarter of 2012. On an annual basis, Scottish GDP grew by 0.9%. While the UK has entered another recession, the last one was shorter and shallower in Scotland than in the rest of the UK.
Energy and the Environment: Scotland provides 40% of the UK’s renewables, and is ahead of schedule on the SNP promise to run on 100% renewables by 2020. Scotland possesses 25% of Europe’s potential for offshore wind and tidal energy. The former is estimated to support 48,000 jobs as a result of new investments. David Kennedy, the chief executive of the Independent Committee On Climate Change, explained in June this year that in a Great Britain-wide market, UK investment in Scottish energy is economically sound.
The most recent Government Expenditure and Revenue accounts revealed that 90.5% of oil & gas revenues came from Scottish waters. Yet less than half of the value of the North Sea's oil and gas reserves have even extracted. North Sea oil reserves are projected to yield about £3.6 billion a year for the next 30 years, meaning Scottish revenues would account for £3.2 billion a year. This sector is attracting an increase in foreign investment, as well.
Education: For its size, Scotland has the strongest university research base in the world. According to the world rankings by the Times Higher Education magazine, five Scottish universities fall in the top 200 of the world's higher education institutions.
Health, safety, and other services: Scotland already runs an independent NHS. We have also been given devolved powers over local government, police, courts, and the legal system.
About The Referendum:
Alex Salmond announced early this year that a referendum for Scottish independence will be held in August of 2014. All those 18 and over, residing in Scotland at the time, will be eligible to vote.
It is currently undecided as to whether there will be a single question (“yes” or “no”), or whether Devolution-Max will be an option.
In the Case of Independence:
Scotland would retain the Pound Sterling. Scotland is already a member of the EU and is not currently in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism II, so Scotland would not be forced to join the Euro. If however the economic conditions were right, Scotland would consider an alternative currency, but only after a referendum. Currency unions are strong, and 11 of the 20 wealthiest countries in the developed world are in them. Scotland will still be a part of the EU immediately following independence.
The government would be structured as it is today. Our unique electoral systems will remain, with the first parliamentary elections to be held in May 2016. We would have our own Treasury and Department of Foreign Affairs, based in Scotland. While these changes would incur costs, we would save £50 million annually in the maintenance of Westminster representatives.