THESE seven scores show the Union is making Scots the poor relations of north-west Europe, a respected economist says.

The data on social inequality, per capita wealth, productivity, pensions, poverty levels, government deficit and unemployment support is drawn from analysis carried out by the House of Commons Library. It reveals how the UK has “vastly underperformed” in comparison with other northern European states.

The SNP, who have compiled a folio of the data, claim it’s conclusive proof that the UK is not delivering for Scotland, with its shadow chancellor Alison Thewliss arguing: “The evidence shows that independent countries of Scotland’s size, or smaller, are consistently more equal than the UK. By becoming an independent country, with full powers over employment, social security and the economy, Scotland can be more successful and better off – just like our European neighbours.”

READ MORE: Trade blow ‘proves’ Union is failing Scotland as whisky exports down by millions

The Sunday National passed the folio to Professor Mike Danson, a professor emeritus at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University and visiting academic at a number of other UK institutions.

He’s confirmed the data is “factually correct” and “entirely consistent with all previous research”. That’s after years of claims by opponents that no economic case for independence adds up.

“Are the SNP are correct in their claim that the Union isn’t delivering for Scotland and that the House of Commons Library analysis builds an economic case for independence? Absolutely,” said Danson, who’s also vice-chair of the Jimmy Reid Foundation.

“The analysis from the House of Commons Library is robust, based on official sources and simply confirms the evolving falling standards of living and quality of life in the UK compared with our neighbours across northern and western Europe. The evidence can be supplemented by much wider data sourced from official UK, ONS, EU and OECD databases. All add to the picture of a UK falling further behind what citizens can expect in all of these countries.

The National:

“Scotland is being dragged down continuously by the Westminster establishment in terms of health, happiness, prosperity, equality, press freedom. Each of the Nordic countries recovered from the 2008 financial crisis quicker than the UK with less hardship and further damage to their people and economy.

Brexit is yet to impact on the data analysed by the House of Commons Library,” he continued. “All the commentaries by respectable and respected institutions show the UK will fall further behind in terms of all these statistics of life. How the UK Government has managed Covid and Brexit to date suggests many of these forecasts may underestimate the longer damage.”

Today the Sunday National presents each of these analyses.


HOUSE of Commons Library work reveals this is the case for every year in which figures are available since the turn of the century. The analysis uses the Gini coefficient, which is based on the comparison of cumulative proportions of the population against cumulative proportions of income they receive, shows countries with smaller or similar populations to Scotland are faring better than the UK. These include Norway, Ireland, Luxembourg and others, with the entire dataset also taking in Austria, Switzerland, France and more.


THE UK has been the least wealthy country per person of all of its European neighbours for every year of this century, putting it behind all 13 of those nations.

The analysis uses data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and shows that, per person, the UK is £5062 worse-off than the average of all countries in north west Europe and £15,739 poorer than those independent countries with a headcount around the size of Scotland’s.

It also shows that the wealth gap between the UK and nearby states has grown worse over the 20 years. The percentage deficit with the average of those countries has doubled from -7.6% in 2000 to -16.3% this year, and for those countries with a population similar or smaller than Scotland it has gone from -26.6% in 2000 to -50.7% this year.


THE UK’s productivity has been the weakest of the 13 neighbouring states for every year since 2009, according to House of Commons Library analysis of OECD figures.

UK GDP per hour worked was £43.97 in 2019, which is the most recent year for which data is available – 41% lower than Ireland, which topped the league at £74.88. In contrast, the total of the independent countries of Scotland’s size or smaller was £61.10, while the overall average was £50.82.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said the UK’s failure to maintain productivity growth contributed to a lost decade of pay growth for workers.


AS a proportion of pre-retirement wages of all of our European neighbours, the UK’s is the lowest. Pensioners here receive less than one third of the average working wage when they retire. In Luxembourg and Austria the figure is 90%.

The net replacement rate – which measures how effectively a pension system provides a retirement income to replace earnings – divides pension entitlement by pre-retirement earnings, taking into account personal income taxes and social security contributions paid by workers and pensioners. The analysis, which uses OECD data, shows the UK net replacement rate of 28% is under Ireland’s 36% and far below the Netherlands’ rate of 80%.


A TOTAL of 11.7% of people in the UK live in relative poverty, under the OECD definition – worse than all 13 neighbouring countries and more than twice Iceland’s 4.9% rate.

The figures, using OECD data, come as Chancellor Rishi Sunak presses ahead with plans to slash Universal Credit top-ups from next month.


THE UK has vastly underperformed in comparison to all other north-west European nations throughout the 21st century – with the UK average more than four times the median.

The analysis, using IMF data covering the period 2000-2021, found the UK had a budget deficit of -5.15% despite the north-west European average being -2.35%. Three countries were found to have a cumulative surplus – Norway (+8.71), Luxembourg (+1.08%), and Denmark (+0.41%) – all of whom are of similar or smaller size to Scotland.


WHEN 16 types of households on average unemployment benefits are compared over 20 years across 14 countries in north-west Europe (including the UK), the UK ranks lowest in 95% of cases.

For the latest year available – 2019 for Switzerland and last year for the others – the UK is worse in 97% of cases and equal in 1%. Of the four cases in which the UK does not rank lowest or equal to, it is only by a single digit.

The figures, using OECD data, show unemployed people in the UK receive 16 percentage points of their employed income less than those in the average north-west European country. When compared to small countries similar in size to Scotland, this rises to 19 percentage points.