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News & politics

Lies , damned lies, and statistics.

(25 Posts)
Elegran Mon 08-Oct-12 09:46:07

Headline to an item in the DT - "Nine in ten Scots 'living off state's patronage' says Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader.

"Miss Davidson supported her claims by publishing figures from the Office for National Statistics, which showed the average Scottish household consumes £14,151 more in public services every year than it pays in tax.

Even the families in the middle income groups consume around £20,000 more in state spending than they contribute.

However, those in the top 10 per cent pay £17,205 more in tax than they receive in public services. "

HOWEVER - mentioned briefly in the body of the article - "According to the most recent figures, Scotland contributed 9.6 per cent of Britain’s tax take and accounted for 9.3 per cent of public spending. "

I can't get my brain round these staistics - or why so many people in England think they are subsidising Scottish welfare, when it seems that it is the wealthier Scots who are coughing up for their compatriots.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 10:12:02

My first thought on reading this, elegran, was: What's the writer's or the DT's political agenda? Nuff said, methinks.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 10:22:01

This seems like a reasonably balanced article by Stephanie Flanders.

Ana Mon 08-Oct-12 10:31:14

I agree, Bags - good article.
Surely the fact that Scots don't have to pay for prescriptions, old age care or University fees skews the figures somewhat?

Elegran Mon 08-Oct-12 10:48:45

A good article, Bags.

Granny23 Mon 08-Oct-12 11:26:10

Ms Davidson is using selective statistics. Substitute Welsh, English or NI households for Scottish and the figures would look much the same, because they refer to PERSONAL taxation. She has deliberately left out the big chunk of tax take from corporation tax, excise duties, licences and so on which make up the rest of the Gov's budget. The total revenue is at the Gov's disposal to spend on 'public services' i.e. everything the Gov. pays for including defence, embassies, overseas aid, motorways, the Olympics.

The Key figures are the Westminster (Not the Scottish!) government's own which show that Scotland with 8.4% of the UK population, generates 9.6% of the UK's revenues and receives 9.3% of the UK's spending. Even in that calculation oil revenues are allocated on a per capita basis so that only 9% is credited to Scotland - the obverse is that 9% of spending on the Olympics, high speed rail and other delights that we do not benefit from up here, is debited against Scotland.

The figures are at best guesstimates - How do you work out how much of say Tesco's profits should be allocated to Scotland? How much of HBOS & RBS losses can be attributed to Scotland when 90% of their business is south of the border (or overseas) - and can easily be manipulated to prove anything you like.

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 11:33:43

Go it, granny23. As Stephanie Wotsit points out, Scotland is poorer than The South, has higher unemployment figures (partly the fault of southern government. Thatcher, anyone?), and greater health problems. Something else isn't taken into account either – all the brainy Scots who have benefitted the whole of the UK in the past, and still do. Defence budget spent in Scotland is for the defence of the UK, not just Scotland, etc, etc.

What is it with the rich south, one wonders? Envy at our beautiful landscape, perhaps?

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 11:35:10

And the glorious warm, dry weather?

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 11:35:29

Forgot the [sarc emoticon]

Granny23 Mon 08-Oct-12 13:13:26

Bags It is a glorious warm, dry day here today as it was yesterday.

Ana The Scottish and Welsh Parliaments receive a block grant from Westminster calculated (according to the Barnett Formula) to cover the responsibilities which have been devolved and that includes the areas you mention - Health, Education, Social Services. If there is a rise or cut to, say, the NHS budget for England and Wales then the same percentage will be added or taken from the Scottish Block Grant. Currently, the BG has been cut severely, in line with UK wide cuts in response to the financial crises. The Scottish Finance Minister must prepare a Budget which is under the expected total of the BG. The Scottish Government has no other revenue, is not allowed to borrow, or overspend and any surplus at year end is clawed back by the UK Exchequer. It is quite a task!

Our Government decided to abolish prescription charges, partly because it was 'the right thing to do' but also because the costs associated with administering the charges were enormous and the vast majority of prescriptions were free anyway. Overall it has cost little and enabled the working poor (and those on Job Seekers) to collect their prescriptions, without having to save up for them. Similarily there is an enormous saving in administrative and means testing costs associated with free personal care. Many older people were already eligble but had to battle their way through bureaucracy and budget protection battles between Health and Social Services. This has not meant that the RICH are now getting free personal care - they could access it if they wanted but in general people who can afford to pay prefer to go private.

Yes, these 'free' services do cost more, but not as much as you would think. The Finance Minister has to find the money within his budget and so we do not have, for instance, SureStart Centres, but the bulk of his savings have come from reducing bureaucracy, amalgamating Quangos, departments and the latest 'biggie' combining the Regional Police Forces into one Nation-wide Force.

HTH smile

Ana Mon 08-Oct-12 13:20:54

Thanks, Granny23 - that was very informative and just shows how one can make assumptions without acutally knowing the facts! smile

Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 13:24:13

Same here if you call 13° degrees warm. It has been a lovely day, certainly. Clouding over now.

gillybob Mon 08-Oct-12 13:25:22

I often wonder where us Geordies come into the whole scheme of things? We are totally forgotten about by government who think the North equals Birmingham and we are not quite North enough to enjoy the free prescriptions , zero tuition fees etc. available in Scotland.


Bags Mon 08-Oct-12 13:33:46

The prescriptions are only free at the point of collection. We do actually pay for them! This is what taxes are for. In England, you pay twice because of governments that don't really believe in National health care provision.

gillybob Mon 08-Oct-12 13:45:31

I honesty don't think the government even begins to understand what it might be like to not pick up your prescription because you cant afford to pay for it or to ask the pharmacist which of tow or three items is the most important (of course they all are) when you can only afford one item.

On a slight diversion my son has a crown on his tooth that has fallen out many times. Most recently the dentist said she was unable to fix it back without putting a post in at a cost of £120. My son (despite both him and his partner working) does not have £120 to spend on himself (as he puts it). Try explaining that to DC and he wouldn't have a clue. angry

JessM Mon 08-Oct-12 13:45:40

This kind of thing gives statistics a bad name. The tories seem intent on talking up the "scrounger" thing to justify their plans to cut benefits. They have been at it for a while.

Elegran Mon 08-Oct-12 18:44:54

Gillybob Doesn't "The North" begin at Watford Gap, and Geordies are just hybrid Scots/Northerner reivers who don't count either as English or Scottish? grin

gillybob Mon 08-Oct-12 21:29:02

Yes Elegran I think you are right . I watched a documentary about the
New rail link last night and it described bridging the North South
divide by providing good links to Birmingham ???
Us "real" Northerners have more in common with our friends over the border but
Sadly don't enjoy the benefits !

glassortwo Mon 08-Oct-12 21:57:05

gillybob you only have to look at the dueling of the A1 in Northumberland to see that DC considers the North East a forgotten area, Main route to Scotland through the North East and its a joke! I think they need to move the border slightly.

NfkDumpling Mon 08-Oct-12 22:18:14

So if Berwick became Scots again,would it even things up?

Elegran Mon 08-Oct-12 22:18:22

Could you arrange a secession and join Scotland?

Granny23 Mon 08-Oct-12 22:22:48

When I think of the North East, I think from Aberdeen up to Wick and Thurso! Once Scotland has independence, the English Northerners can secede and come and join us (some of you already have your flags wink). Only downside would be that you would then be SOUTHERNERS - Oh Dear!
(Making up policy on the hoof)....... We could shift the border just south of Hadrian's Wall and then you would be BORDERERS. Will that be OK?

gillybob Mon 08-Oct-12 22:25:41

NfkDumpling I have often wondered why it is the people if Berwick
Vote to remain English when there would be so many benefits for them to "become" Scottish?

glassortwo Mon 08-Oct-12 22:31:53

I only live a few miles from the border Elegran so it would not take much to move it.

NfkDumpling Mon 08-Oct-12 22:44:58

I'd vote for independence for Norfolk.