Jim Cuthbert and Margaret Cuthbert: Website
Papers on the Scottish Economy
The primary purpose of this website is to bring together, and make easily accessible, most of the articles we have published since 1997. These articles are mainly on the topics of the operation of Scottish devolution, Scotlandís public finances, the Scottish economy, and issues relating to Scottish independence. We are grateful to the editors of the relevant journals for permission to reproduce these articles here.
|Theme 1:Public Expenditure and Monitoring|
|Theme 2: Growing the Scottish Economy
(direct link to social security factfile here)
|Theme 3: PFI, Water and Utility Pricing|
|Theme 4: Free Personal Care|
|Theme 5: Monetary Union|
|Theme 6: Other Topics, including Irish history|
|Theme 7: Purchasing Power Parities|
|Chronological List of Papers|
The papers on this website are grouped in two ways: first of all, by theme, and
second, chronologically. Links to the theme pages, and to the chronological
listing, are to be found on the left of this page: on each theme page, as well
as the links to the individual articles, there is a brief introduction, setting
each paper in context.
The first of the themes relates to public expenditure in Scotland, and monitoring the financial aspects of devolution. Under this theme are papers dealing with various aspects of the Barnett formula, (the means by which the major part of the funding of the Scottish Parliament is currently determined): there are also critiques of the Scottish Executiveís annual exercise on Government Expenditure and Revenues in Scotland, and of the Treasuryís fundamental Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis. There are also papers dealing with what information is required so that the operation of devolution can be properly monitored. All of these papers represent an attempt to look below the surface of, and to demystify, the important subject of Scotlandís public finances.
Our next theme relates to the topic of growing the Scottish economy. The papers deal with specific topics in areas like the knowledge economy, higher education and international trade: included under this theme is the factfile we produced in September 2014 on the labour market and social security. A link to this factfile is also given here.
Our third and fourth themes also deal with specific subjects- but subjects of such importance they each merit themes in their own right. One is the financing of the water industry in Scotland, and, more generally, utility pricing. Water is not merely one of Scotlandís major industries: it also constitutes a vital economic resource, in which Scotland has a major potential comparative advantage. We demonstrate how, because of errors made by the Scottish Executive in the implementation of a new system of financial control for the water industry, it is likely that water customers will be overcharged by approaching £1 billion over the period 2002-10: and the continuation of the water industry in Scotland as a publicly owned body has also been jeopardised. As our work in this area is progressing, it is broadening into a more general critique of the widely used Regulatory Capital Value method of setting prices for regulated utilities. Our work has also branched out recently in another direction, namely into a critique of certain important elements of the Private Finance Initiative, (PFI). The common element is that, at base, the fundamental errors we have uncovered in both PFI and utility pricing stem from mistakes in the application of current cost accounting.
Our fourth theme is the costings of the policy of free personal care for the elderly in Scotland. Free Personal Care was the first major flagship policy of the new devolved government. We show that there has been significant underestimation of the likely costs of the new policy: this is likely to harm the quality of service for those most in need.
Our fifth theme contains papers dealing with the implications for the Scottish economy of various aspects of monetary union: that is, both the existing UK monetary union, and the implications of possible entry into the euro zone. Included in this section are papers dealing with fiscal autonomy: whether Scotland, considered as a member of the UK monetary union, meets Gordon Brownís famous five tests: and on how Scotland might fare if it entered the euro, while the rest of the UK stayed out.
The sixth theme deals with a number of other topics. One of the papers here discusses the rebate which the UK receives from the European Union: the paper identifies the disadvantages with the current form of rebate, and suggests a more satisfactory alternative. Other papers look at some little known aspects of the struggle for Irish independence : these are not only interesting in their own right, but also have implications for Scotland.
The last theme is of a more specialised nature, and deals with some technical questions in the field of purchasing power parities.
Our articles contain full references, and in many cases are published in refereed journals. We feel we can offer an independent perspective on the issues on which we comment, particularly since
: we are not members of any political party.
: we are not members of any institution, (and so are independent, for example, of academic grant constraints).
: we are not commissioned or funded to do the work reported here.
: nor are we committed to the current constitutional structure of the United Kingdom.
We hope that our articles will be of interest to those, whether in Scotland or beyond, who have Scotlandís interests at heart.
If you have any comments, please contact us.