Should anyone care about the Fiscal Framework Outturn Report?

As most people who read this blog will know, the increasing dependence of the Scottish budget on tax revenues means that Scottish budgets are increasingly determined by forecasts of tax revenues.

There will almost always be a degree of error associated with these forecasts. Following the end of a financial year, once revenue outturn data is available, we will know whether the Scottish Government actually had more resources at its disposal than had been forecast, or fewer.

A complication in this analysis is that the Scottish budget is not only dependent on forecasts of Scottish tax revenues. It is also dependent on forecasts of the ‘block grant adjustments’ (BGAs) – these BGAs are effectively estimates of the revenues that the UK Government has foregone as a result of transferring each tax to Scotland. The BGAs are deducted from Scotland’s block grant.

The BGAs contained in each Scottish budget are determined by forecasts of the growth of equivalent taxes in the rest of the UK. In the same way that there is likely to be forecast error associated with Scottish revenues, there is likely to be forecast error associated with the BGAs.

How these two sets of forecast error – for Scottish revenues and for the BGAs – effect the resources available to the Scottish budget is the subject of the Fiscal Framework Outturn Report which was published by the Scottish Government yesterday. As far as government reports go it is relatively short, although given the complex nature of the fiscal framework it nonetheless provides a stern test of the reader’s concentration.Continue reading

September 21, 2018

Trends in Scottish housing and the challenges facing young people

Stuart Balfour is a third year undergraduate economics student at the University of Strathclyde and is participating in a summer internship in the Fraser of Allander Institute supported by the Carnegie Trust. This blog summarises some of Stuart’s research into trends in Scottish housing over the last two decades, using data from the Family Resource Survey (FRS) – a detailed annual survey of UK households published by the Department of Work and Pensions.


Renters in Scotland have seen housing costs increase by around 21% over the last decade in real terms. Meanwhile, housing costs for households owning with a mortgage have fallen sharply in just a decade, although this is primarily attributable to a spike in 2007/08 (Chart 1). Overall, homeowners with mortgages have seen their real costs decrease to levels seen twenty years ago.

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August 17, 2018

The spillover effects of UK trade-enhancing industrial policies on the energy and non-energy systems

Key messages

  • The “spillover” effects of non-energy (primarily economic) policies on the energy system are of considerable interest from a policy perspective. In (The spillover effects of UK trade-enhancing industrial policies on the energy and non-energy systems) we analyse the impacts of export promotion policies – a key element of the UK’s Industrial Strategy – on the energy system and energy policy goals.
  • As the impacts of such policies are, in a large part transmitted via their effects on the economy, we adopt a computable general equilibrium model of the UK (UK-ENVI) that fully captures the interdependence of the energy and economic systems.
  • Our simulation results suggest that an across-the-board stimulus to exports stimulates all major economic indicators, and increases total energy use significantly. The energy intensity of GDP increases – not directly through energy exports – but indirectly through the energy sectors’ linkages to other sectors.
  • Export led growth therefore impacts on energy use – and significantly so. This in turn is likely to have an adverse impact on emission targets.
  • Policy makers should be aware of the fact that a successful implementation of the Industrial Strategy may create significant tensions with the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, for example, and with the goals of energy policy more generally, in the absence of offsetting policy initiatives.
  • Ultimately, a knowledge of such spillover effects of economic policies on the energy system creates the potential for more effective and efficient policy making.

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August 2, 2018

The impact of economic downturns upon the energy transition

This blog discusses research in progress by David Comerford & Alessandro Spiganti, entitled “The Energy Trap”, which was presented at the Royal Economic Society conference at the University of Sussex on 27th March 2018. The presentation slides can be found here. The purpose of this blog is to describe this early stage research, which is at the stage of being presented to an academic conference, to a non-technical audience.

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April 23, 2018

Latest Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Business Monitor Results

Today we published our latest Scottish Business Monitor with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The results cover the 2nd quarter of 2017 and are therefore a helpful up-to-date indicator of economic trends in Scotland. Overall, the results suggest that the Scottish economy grew in the 3-months up to the end of June, albeit at a fragile pace.

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July 3, 2017