GERS 2020

The release of the yearly Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report is one of the most intensely debated topics within the Scottish constitutional question. The debate on this report exists in two parts. Firstly, on the methodology of the report itself and how accurately it represents the Scottish economy within the UK. Secondly, what the data suggests is what an independent Scotland’s fiscal balance could look like and what challenges this could entail.

These two debates lead to a healthy and largely informative discussion that introduce activists to new macroeconomic concepts. Alas, the debate also reinforces orthodox economic language and misleading claims that exist on both sides of the debate. This fundamentally comes from a misunderstanding how the macroeconomic system works in the UK today. Responding to these issues will be the main purpose of this article, whilst leaving room to discuss methodology in the future.

GERS functions as a positive advertisement for membership of the UK because its data suggests that Scotland is subsidised by other UK regions. The argument that follows is that Scotland’s notional deficit, which as part of the UK was £15.1 billion in 20