Scottish independence: Row over start-up costs

Coins and flag The UK Treasury based its figures on research into the costs of setting up an independent state in Quebec

A row has broken out over the cost of setting up all of the public bodies needed in an independent Scotland.

It came after the UK Treasury published analysis which put the cost at £1.5bn.

It based the figure on research into the costs of setting up an independent state in Quebec, which were estimated at 1% of GDP.

But Scotland's finance secretary accused the Treasury of releasing "false information".

He has written to the senior civil servant at the UK government department calling for an investigation into the matter.

In its analysis, the Treasury said that the costs could be nearly twice as much as its own £1.5bn estimate, if based on a different study by the London School of Economics.

Start Quote

The Scottish government is trying to leave the UK but it won't tell anyone how much the set-up surcharge is for an independent Scotland”

End Quote Danny Alexander Chief secretary to the Treasury

The Treasury claimed Scottish ministers wanted to create 180 public bodies, which led the LSE to a figure of £2.7bn based on each new department costing £15m.

The UK government department said that, while it had used a more conservative figure in its own analysis, the £2.7bn costing was "reasonable".

Start Quote

The misinformation presented in this publication places serious doubts over the accuracy of the full Treasury analysis expected later this week”

End Quote John Swinney Scottish finance secretary

And it called on the Scottish government to publish its own estimates for how much it would cost to set up the organisations needed to run a country.

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said: "The Scottish government is trying to leave the UK but it won't tell anyone how much the set-up surcharge is for an independent Scotland.

"As part of the UK, Scotland gains from a strong and stable tax and benefits system and our comprehensive analysis, published this week, sets out how much better off Scottish taxpayers are; that's why we're better off together."

But the Scottish government said it had never suggested that 180 public bodies would be needed, and pointed out that the UK government only had 24 departments.

Ministers also argued that start-up costs would be lower because they were planning to run a slimmed-down system, with many of the required public bodies already existing in Scotland.

'Simple comparison'

In a letter to the Treasury's permanent secretary, Sir Nicholas MacPherson, Finance Secretary John Swinney wrote: "It is essential that the public can make a balanced judgement on the referendum debate.

"The misinformation presented in this publication places serious doubts over the accuracy of the full Treasury analysis expected later this week and previous Treasury works on Scotland becoming independent."

Mr Swinney continued: "A simple comparison with the 24 departments of the UK government shows how ludicrous the claim was.

"The Scottish government has no intention of creating 180 government departments or even 180 public bodies as was later claimed by UK government press officers and special advisers. There is no mention of this in the Scottish government's white paper Scotland's Future.

"I would appreciate urgent clarity from yourself as to whether this material was approved by you and on what basis and an explanation of how such blatantly false figures came to be presented to the media on behalf of the Treasury."

Mr Swinney's complaint came ahead of the publication of the Treasury's latest analysis on the costs of independence over a 20-year period from 2016 to 2035/36.

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    07:56: Fracking row BBC Radio Scotland

    Mike Weir, SNP energy spokesman at Westminster, tells Good Morning Scotland a moratorium on fracking is a "sensible" idea.

    He says he is backing the move because the devolution of some aspects of unconventional oil and gas production, including licensing, is not due until after the general election under Smith Commission recommendations.

    Mr Weir continues: "At the moment there are existing licenses, and there's the potential for the department of energy and climate change to grant new licenses in the interim. We don't think that should happen.

    "We have very strong reservations about fracking. There is increasing evidence from the United States that fracking can have environmental impacts, and concerns about it. We think we need to look at this very very closely indeed."

    He adds: "We're talking about fracking in an area of central Scotland that's densely populated. I don't think it's sensible to rush ahead with this."

     
  2.  
    07:47: Fracking moratorium

    MPs from several parties are to try to put the brakes on the shale gas industry by demanding a moratorium on all developments until the dangers have been properly assessed.

    fracking graphic

    The move coincides with a warning from Westminster's Environmental Audit Committee that the process could pose a risk to public health and is incompatible with this country's climate change commitments

     
  3.  
    07:38: Murray ready for partisan crowd

    Scotland's Andy Murray is ready to deal with a partisan home crowd when he faces Nick Kyrgios in the Australian Open quarter-finals tomorrow.

    Andy Murray

    The pair will meet in the night session match on Rod Laver Arena at 08:15 GMT.

    Kyrgios, 19, is the first Australian man for 10 years to reach the last eight and hopes to become the first for 39 years to win the title.

    "Obviously the crowd will be right behind him, understandably so," said Murray, 27.

     
  4.  
    07:32: Lord Smith heads Games legacy project

    Lord Smith of Kelvin has agreed to chair of one of Scotland's largest regeneration projects, Clyde Gateway.

    Lord Smith of Kelvin

    Lord Smith, who chaired the Smith Commission on Scottish devolution, will lead Clyde Gateway on delivering the post-2014 Commonwealth Games legacy.

    The work focuses on regenerating Glasgow's east end.

     
  5.  
    07:26: BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Roads: High wind warning on the Skye and Kessock Bridges.

    Edinburgh - One lane closed on A1 northbound for resurfacing works between Newcraighall Road and The Jewel.

    A73 Chapellhall to Newhouse Road still has a contraflow in place.

    Kilmarnock - A76 has temporary traffic lights in place at the Bellfield Interchange

    Ferries: Calmac's Fionnphort-Iona is on amber alert because of the weather.

    Disruption likely on the Oban-Colonsay sailings and likewise on the Oban-Tiree ferry.

     
  6.  
    07:19: HMP Inverclyde Reevel Alderson BBC Scotland social affairs correspondent

    "The 2012 report by former lord advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, which looked at the whole question of women in prison in Scotland, concluded that putting women in prison for minor offences wasn't the best thing for them or even for society. It said those who carry out serious crimes should be jailed but the rest, many with children outside, mental health or drugs problems, should be dealt with in smaller units.

    "That was accepted across the chamber but it seems the plans to build a jail for 300 women in Greenock flew in the face of that.

    "The Scottish government said it would make a decision by the end of the month, that's this week. I expect we will hear one way or another in the next few days."

     
  7.  
    07:10: HMP Inverclyde

    Pressure is building on the Scottish government to shelve plans for a new womens' prison in Greenock. The deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, Kezia Dugdale, will force a vote on the HMP Inverclyde plan at Holyrood this week.

    Architect's drawing of proposed HMP Inverclyde

    The prison would have the capacity to hold 300 women and replace Cornton Vale which is due to close in 2018.

     
  8.  
    07:05: A9 speed camera stats due

    Statistics linked to the setting up of average speed cameras on the A9 are expected to be released later.

    Average speed cameras on A9

    The controversial camera system was installed at 27 sites from Perth to Inverness and went live in October.

    Despite critics claiming it would have little effect on safety, it is understood both speeding and accidents are down.

     
  9.  
    07:04: BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    A breezy day to come with scattered showers, heaviest in the northwest and over the Northern Isles, where they'll bring a mix of hail, thunder and sleet, with a covering of snow over high level roads.

    Eastern Scotland: Dry and clear with a few icy patches, but this is also where we will see the best of the sunshine.

    Central and southern Scotland: A few showers and some decent bright spells.

    Noticeably colder than yesterday, at 5C to 7C.

    West or northwesterly winds -fresh for most but strong, even touching gale force - around the northwest coast and over the northern isles.

     
  10.  
    07:00: Live and kicking Paul McLaren BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to Monday's Scotland Live, where we will bring you all the latest news, sport, travel and weather updates from around the country between now and 19:00.

     

Features

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.