New official figures confirm that being part of the UK means more money to spend on public services in West Dunbartonshire and Helensburgh and Lomond said local MSP Jackie Baillie.

Jackie Baillie was responding to the SNP Government’s publication of the annual GERS figures -; Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland.┬áThe official figures show that Scotland’s deficit is more than double that of the UK as a whole, but because we are part of the UK public spending in Scotland doesn’t need to be slashed to plug this gap. Scotland now has a £15 billion gap between tax revenues and spending on public services and our deficit is worth 9.5% of GDP compared to 4% for the UK.

The figures also confirm that North Sea oil and gas revenue fell by 97% in the last year -; down from £1.8 billion in 2014/15 to just £60 million in 2015/16. Before the independence referendum Nicola Sturgeon promised there would be a second oil boom.

Jackie said:

“Good quality public services that we all rely on need investment. Whether it’s schools in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh or our local health services, such as the Vale of Leven hospital, the way to grow our economy and improve our services is through more investment rather than cuts. The SNP Government’s figures prove that being part of the UK means there is more money available to invest in education and the health service than if we voted for independence.

“The SNP and the Tories are already cutting public spending, but independence would make things even worse. At a time when council funding has been slashed and vital services at the Vale of Leven Hospital are under threat the last thing we need is even more austerity -; but that is exactly what would happen with independence.”

Addressing calls from local SNP politicians for a second independence referendum, Jackie said:

“The SNP Government’s own figures should act as a reality check for those calling for another independence referendum. The government should focus on getting people back into work and investing in education and the health service, rather than campaigning for another independence referendum.

“The Scottish Parliament has major new powers over tax. Labour has argued for months that these new powers should be used to stop the cuts so we can invest in our public services. That should start with asking the richest 1% earning more than £150,000 a year to pay their fair share

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