Britain in decline: how the UK is falling behind under the Tories

12 years of Tory rule at Westminster have accelerated Britain’s economic decline.

Tory governments that Scotland hasn’t voted for since 1955 have imposed austerity, Brexit and now preside over the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades.

While other European countries outperform the UK on key measures, and take real action to tackle the cost of living – the UK is falling behind due to Tory inaction.

Here’s 7 facts illustrating just how.

1. UK’s trade deficit is the worst on record

The UK’s trade deficit – the amount of the UK’s imports exceeding its exports – has increased even further, according to the latest data. In simple terms, the UK is buying a lot more than it’s selling.

A hard Brexit has caused a huge amount of damage to the UK’s exporters. Exports from the UK to the EU fell by 19% in the 15 months after Brexit, and the long-term effects on businesses are projected to be a lot worse.

Meanwhile, despite being held back by a Brexit we didn’t vote for, Scotland exports more per head of population than the rest of the UK.

Source: Financial Times, September 2022

2. While the rich get richer, the rest are getting poorer

Under the last 12 years of Tory rule, inequality in the UK has skyrocketed.

In 2007, the average UK household was 8% worse off than average households in countries in north-west Europe.

Since then, the standard of living for British households is 20% weaker than their counterparts in neighbouring countries.

According to a Financial Times report, “the average Slovenian household will be better off than its British counterpart by 2024, and the average Polish family will move ahead before the end of the decade. A country in desperate need of migrant labour may soon have to ask new arrivals to take a pay cut.”

While countries with similar populations to Scotland – such as Norway – safeguard a higher standard of living, we pay the price for Westminster failure.

Source: Financial Times, September 2022

3. Meanwhile, rich households will receive twice as much cost-of-living support as poorer households

Despite the poorest households being hardest hit by the Tory cost-of-living crisis, richer households are set to receive more than double the amount of cost-of-living support from the UK government.

According to the Resolution Foundation, richer homes will get support worth £4,700 in 2023, compared to £2,200 for the poorest.

The IFS has also described the UK government’s support package as “very poorly targeted” – and as Liz Truss refused to tax the enormous excess profits made by energy companies, the UK government’s package will leave people footing the bill in the long term.

Source: The Guardian, September 2022

4. Liz Truss sides with energy companies, while the EU taxes them to help those who need it most

According to the UK government’s own figures, energy firms in the UK alone are set to make £170 billion in excess profits in the next two years.

And yet, despite a cost-of-living crisis that threatens millions of families, Liz Truss has ruled out taxing these profits – taking the side of the ultra-rich over ordinary people.

Meanwhile, the EU has announced a windfall tax to ensure oil and gas companies pay the 33% “solidarity contribution” on their profits – with EU member states free to set higher levies if they choose to.

The EU will raise around £120 billion to be redirected towards struggling households and businesses.

As an independent nation and a part of the EU, Scotland would be able to benefit from that – but instead we’re left out in the cold by Westminster inaction.

Source: The Guardian, September 2022

5. While UK wages fall at a record rate, the UK government prioritises increasing bankers’ bonuses

According to recent statistics, the real value of UK wages has continued to fall at the fastest rate in 20 years, since records began.

After taking account of soaring inflation, UK wages have fallen by 3% in June 2022.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the average UK worker has lost £9,200 per year.

And yet, while people suffer a Tory-made cost-of-living crisis, new Tory chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is planning to abolish rules imposed after the 2008 crash that capped bonuses at twice an employee’s salary.

Bankers’ bonuses in the UK are already at the highest they’ve been for years – but this move, by a UK government that’s telling public sector workers to accept pay cuts, shows where Tory priorities really lie.

Source: The Guardian, February 2022

6. The UK is falling behind on growth, while countries similar to Scotland’s size are wealthier

The OECD said that the UK’s economic growth will be slower than that of any other developed country, apart from heavily-sanctioned Russia.

Similarly, the IMF says the UK will sink to the bottom of the G7 growth league next year, in part because of the Tories’ public spending cuts.

In 2020, the UK’s GDP per capita fell below the OECD average.

Meanwhile, neighbouring countries similar to Scotland’s size – such as Ireland, Norway and Belgium – are wealthier, more productive, and able to sustain growth for a longer time than the UK.

Source: OECD, 2020

7. The UK is getting more and more unequal, while neighbouring countries build fairer societies

Falling real wages, falling exports, lagging productivity, and soaring costs. That is the picture of modern Britain under the Tories.

Inequality is on the rise in the UK, with pay growing fastest for the highest earners, while inflation hits those on low incomes hardest.

This, combined with 12 years of Tory austerity and a hard Brexit, means that the standard of living in the UK is getting worse – and the UK is a more unfair society under Westminster control.

Neighbouring countries of Scotland’s size all have greater income equality and lower rates of poverty, while their economies are more resilient and more dynamic.

Scotland can do much better as an independent country

Liz Truss is the ninth Tory Prime Minister that Scotland never voted for – and yet, we’re forced to pay the price of damaging Westminster policies which go against Scotland’s interests and Scotland’s values.

With independence, Scotland will always get the governments it votes for. Our future will be shaped, collectively, by the people who live in Scotland – not out-of-touch Tory governments at Westminster.

Crucially, independence will unlock Scotland’s potential to build a wealthier, fairer and greener economy by putting all the levers and resources at the hands of the democratically-elected Scottish Parliament.

We can do better than remaining tied to a broken Brexit Britain.

Join over half a million people across Scotland, and click here to pledge your support for independence.