Here’s how Westminster has held Scotland back for decades

After recent analysis revealed that the UK is the most unequal country in north-west Europe, new figures show that it’s also the poorest compared to its neighbouring countries.

The research confirms that independent countries, of a size similar to Scotland, have built fairer, more equal societies, while Scotland’s potential has been held back by damaging Westminster Tory governments that we’ve rejected since 1955.

Here’s how.

While neighbouring European countries invest in their societies, Westminster stifles Scotland

Research from the House of Commons Library shows countries in north-west Europe all invest more per person than the UK – and have done so for over two decades.

Using data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it’s been revealed that the UK is now £15,739 per person less wealthy than independent countries that have similar, or lower, population sizes to Scotland.

The wealth gap with our European neighbours has grown worse over the years of chronic under-investment, Tory austerity, and a hard Brexit – all imposed on Scotland against our will.

The UK is “the poor man of north-west Europe”

The data shows that the UK’s national income (GDP) level stands at £31,038 per head of population in 2021 – making it the lowest of its 13 nearest countries: Ireland, Norway, France, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria, and Germany.

The average wealth of these countries, per person, is over £5,000 higher than the UK’s – this makes the UK’s average GDP over 16% lower than its neighbours.

Ireland's wealth per head of population is over double that of the UK's

Independent countries of a similar size to Scotland significantly outperform the UK

While European countries kept investing and growing their economies – the UK lagged behind.

The gap between the GDP of the UK and that of our European neighbours has more than doubled in the past two decades – going from 7.6% lower in 2000, to 16.3% lower this year.

But what’s particularly striking is the gap between the UK and countries with a population of around 5 million – similar to that of Scotland.

Contrasting with this group of countries, such as Ireland or Denmark, the UK’s GDP is an astonishing 50.7% lower – way down from 26.6% in 2000.

The UK has the most unequal society in north west Europe

For every year where figures are available, the UK has suffered the worst inequality of any country in north west Europe.

Recent House of Commons Library research confirms the 2016 Oxfam report, which concluded that “the UK is one of the most unequal developed countries in the world”.

Six countries with populations similar or smaller to Scotland – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Norway – all have significantly more equal and fairer societies than that of the UK.

More Westminster control means more poverty and inequality

In May, an IPPR report revealed that the levels of poverty among working households in the UK has reached a record high in this century.

Under both Labour and Tory governments, relative poverty has risen from 13% of working households in 1996 – to 17.4% in March 2020, before the Covid pandemic and the impacts of Brexit inflicted a further hit.

After a brutal decade of Tory austerity cuts, one in six working households now live in poverty – including around 4.3 million children, according to CPAG.

While the UK is already one of the most unequal countries in Europe and the world, more years of Westminster control risk entrenching poverty and inequality further still.

Meanwhile, our neighbours build fairer societies – and so can Scotland

In an independent Scotland, never again would we have to put up with Tory governments, led by the likes of Boris Johnson or anyone else, that we have repeatedly rejected.

Governments that have inflicted damaging policies like Brexit and austerity, and stifled Scotland’s potential for too long.

To unlock the opportunities to build a more prosperous, fairer and greener society – just like many European countries of similar size to Scotland – we need the powers of independence.

Scotland has what it takes to thrive as an independent country – click here to read the facts.