Exports and the climate emergency? (an aside)

One interesting aside to recent discussions on the latest export figures for Scotland is the links between exports and emissions.

On the one hand, the Scottish Government are committed to growing Scotland’s international presence through boosting exports.

But as we showed in a companion blog, any realistic attempt to boost exports is likely to require a major shift in manufactured goods.

Exporting services is tricky to do. Firstly, because not all services are simply exportable (think of haircuts or buying a dinner in your favourite restaurant). Secondly, because those services that in theory are exportable – such as banking and professional services – run up against significant barriers in the form of different country-specific laws, tax systems and regulatory regimes.

But boosting manufactured goods and shipping them overseas – all else remaining equal – is likely to raise Scotland’s CO2 emissions.


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February 5, 2020

Economic statisticians, irony and Scotland’s latest trade statistics

Economists aren’t known for their sense of humour. Economics statisticians less so.

So it was highly ironic – albeit perhaps not very funny – that just two days before the UK’s departure from the EU, analysts in the Scottish Government published their latest annual account of Scottish exports.

As expected, much of the reaction concentrated on the importance of the EU for Scottish trade.

But the statistics also contain interesting information about the pattern of trade from Scotland more generally.

In this blog, we take a look at a couple of these trends, and notably the importance of manufacturing.

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Devolving income tax revenues to local authorities – some analysis of distributional implications

Frantisek Brocek and David Eiser

Should local authorities’ revenue sources include a locally set income tax? Or, alternatively, a proportion of the income tax revenues that are raised from its own residents?

This question has been pondered repeatedly – although with varying degrees of seriousness – over the past 15 years or so.

It stems from a view that local authorities’ financial and democratic accountability, and autonomy, would be improved if councils raised a greater proportion of revenues from own sources (rather than grant from central government), and that a local income tax would provide a fairer (i.e. proportionate ability to pay) way of achieving this than trying to extend council tax in some way.

But how much revenue would local authorities raise – collectively and individually – if a given element of the income tax schedule were devolved or ‘given over’ to them?

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February 4, 2020

Analysis of Jackson Carlaw’s income tax proposals

Earlier this week, Scottish Conservatives leadership candidate Jackson Carlaw committed to close the income tax gap between Scotland and rUK for those earning between £27,000 and £45,000.

The majority of individuals with income in this range (those with incomes less than £43,430) currently face annual income tax liabilities of up to £150 higher than equivalent counterparts in rUK. But this difference increases rapidly beyond £43,430, reaching £500 at incomes of £45,000 (Chart 1).Continue reading

January 17, 2020