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What will the White Paper spell out for people living in the border region?

The saltire flag Photo: PA

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.

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