Only 12% of Scots are 'net contributors to economy'

Mon, Oct 8, 2012, 01:00

JUST ONE in eight Scots pay more in tax than they receive in benefits, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is to say today.

In an early draft of Ms Davidson’s speech, released last night on the opening day of the Conservative Party’s autumn conference in Birmingham, she says this dependence on a “rotten system of patronage” has “created a corrosive sense of entitlement which suits its political gangmasters”.

The speech was seized upon by the Scottish Nationalist Party, which claimed that she had “plumbed new depths” and insulted the people of Scotland.

In her speech, Ms Davidson said: “It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50 per cent of Scotland’s GDP and only 12 per cent of people are net contributors, where the taxes they pay outweigh the benefits they receive through public spending. Only 12 per cent are responsible for generating Scotland’s wealth.

“I wonder how many of them work on public sector contracts. It’s not just staggering, it’s frightening. We need to expand our private sector, not just to build prosperity but to increase opportunity.”

The speech has caused concern among the Conservatives who fear it will be seized upon by the SNP in the independence referendum debate.

Describing the SNP as nothing other “than a centralising, big-state old Labour with a tartan trim waving a government-distributed saltire”, Ms Davidson went: “Little moves in Scotland without government approval and anyone who dares challenge the status quo is deemed an enemy of the state.”

These remarks by the Conservative leader come just a week after Scottish Labour leader Joan Lamont warned that Scotland’s system of universal benefits, which includes free elderly care and prescriptions, can no longer be afforded. This argument is supported by Scotland’s recently retired and respected state auditor.

SNP parliamentarian Kenneth Gibson said: “This is Ruth Davidson’s Mitt Romney moment. We are used to the Tories insulting Scotland, but Ruth Davidson has now plumbed new depths for her party. At least Mitt Romney only insulted around half of Americans.”

Meanwhile, British prime minister David Cameron rejected Liberal Democrats’ further demand for a mansion tax on homes worth more than £2 million, saying that he did not want the UK to “be a country that comes after you every year with a massive great tax, and so that is not going to happen”.

Chancellor George Osborne said mansion taxes, or wealth taxes, are not the right way to ensure that the rich make a proper contribution, though Mr Cameron had said new measures would be published before the 2015 election.

Indicating that a mansion tax would inevitably affect other taxpayers, Mr Osborne said: “Before the election it’ll be sold to you as a mansion tax. Then, after the election, a lot of the people in Britain are going to wake up and find their more modest homes have been reclassified as a mansion.”

Following months of poor polling figures, the Conservatives unveiled a series of announcements in Birmingham – including the freezing for a third year of the council tax bill faced by all homes in the UK, along with a promise to limit train fare rises to 1 per cent above inflation.