Today, the bar will be raised in the debate on Scottish independence by
publication of the Scottish Government’s white paper on economic policy.
This event has been much trailed in the past week with claims and counter-claims made
regarding the likely economic prospects for an independent Scotland and the
economic policies that might be adopted to achieve this.
At national; level, comment has focused on trying to “second-guess” the Scottish Government’s plans for levels
of corporation tax which some have argued, could lead to a jobs boom north of the
border. Interest also surrounds changes affecting other taxes including National
Insurance and air passenger duty.
Wider questions are also raised about currency,
mechanisms for retaining the pound, the relationship between Scotland and the
Bank of England, future prospects for North Sea Oil revenues and increased costs
associated with an ageing population.
For those of us living either side of the Anglo-Scottish border, one thing is certain;
there will be change. In the midst of the independence debate, we are aware of the
impacts of variations in spending priorities across the border in terms of student fees,
elderly care and economic development.
The Scotland Act agreed in 2012 already
offers the prospect for Scotland to vary income tax rate and borrowing from 2016 should the Scottish Government decide to do so. The Act also transfers powers
over stamp duty, land tax and landfill tax to the Scottish Parliament. This suggests
a direction of travel that will see greater economic autonomy in Scotland regardless
of the outcome of the vote on independence. This provides much food for thought
about the possible effects of such changes on the behaviour of individuals and
businesses in the Border region.