Reform Scotland


Think tank calls for more reliable data to reduce risk of bad policy decisions

Reform Scotland, the independent, non-party think tank, has called for Scotland to create a system of more accurate economic data than has existed during the first two decades of devolution.

Ghill Donald, a member of Reform Scotland’s Economic Advisory Group, is appearing before the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee to give evidence to the committee’s Economic Data Inquiry.  The written submission to the committee can be read here.

Reform Scotland believes that there is a need for more regionalised statistics, comparing Scotland with different regions and countries of the UK, as well as regional breakdown within Scotland. The more detailed the level of information, the easier it is to identify where problems are more prevalent or see where different priorities lie.

Reform Scotland also argues that there needs to be greater synergy between Scottish and local government finance figures, pointing out that the £2.4 billion raised in Customer and Client Receipts in 2015/16, a figure greater than the amount raised in council tax, doesn’t even feature in GERS.

Commenting, Ghill Donald, a member of Reform Scotland’s Economic Advisory Group, said:

“As we have seen time and again after GERS publications, politicians can see what they want to see in the numbers. When it comes to political point-scoring, everyone’s a winner on GERS day.

“This should concern us. Firstly, it shows us that we need more meaningful data which leaves less room for creative interpretation. And, secondly, if the data on which policy-makers make decisions is neither broad enough nor detailed enough then it stands to reason that those decisions may be based on false fundamentals.

“In our evidence today Reform Scotland
has set out two initial steps which could help bring greater clarity to economic data in Scotland.”