Wednesday 24 August 2016 9:45 am

Scotland's deficit remains at £15bn despite huge fall in offshore oil and gas revenue

The Scottish balance sheet is still looking grim as falling oil prices hit revenues earned from offshore oil and gas, urging First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to double down on the EU.

The Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) showed a huge deficit for the nation after a sharp drop from oil and gas revenue.

Scottish public sector revenue was estimated at £57.3bn (7.9 per cent of UK revenue). Of this, just £60m was North Sea revenue.

Scotland’s illustrative share of North Sea revenue fell from £1.8bn in 2014-15 to £60m, reflecting a decline in total UK North Sea revenue.

Total expenditure came in at £68.6bn. Excluding North Sea revenue, there was a deficit of £14.9bn.

Including an illustrative geographic share of North Sea revenue, there was a deficit of £14.8bn.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "The foundations of our economy remain strong. Scotland, in terms of economic output per head – and even excluding offshore revenues – remains the most prosperous part of the UK outside of London and South-east England.

"The lower oil price has, of course, reduced offshore revenues, with a corresponding impact on our fiscal position – this underlines the fact that Scotland's challenge is to continue to grow our onshore economy.

“However, Scotland’s long-term economic success is now being directly threatened by the likely impact of Brexit.

GERS is the annual statement of taxes raised and money spent in Scotland. When oil and gas are making a profit they usually create a positive tax income.

Unionists have said that deficit figures strengthen the case against independence, but First Minister Nicola Strugeon has pushed the agenda onto Brexit in recent days.

Read more: Statoil brought in to North Sea venture by Jersey Oil & Gas

She has said that leaving the EU would cost the Scottish economy £11bn a year by 2030, while yesterday announcing she will appoint a Brexit minister.

Scottish secretary, David Mundell, said the figures "show how being part of the UK protects living standards in Scotland".

"Scotland weathered a dramatic slump in oil revenues last year because we are part of a United Kingdom that has at its heart a system for pooling and sharing resources across the country as a whole.

"It is important that continues and the financial deal between the UK and Scottish governments, struck last year as part of the transfer of new tax and welfare powers to Holyrood, means real security for Scotland."

Last year's GERS figures showed a £15bn deficit.

Scotland’s public sector revenue is equivalent to £10,000 per person, £400 less than the UK average, regardless of the inclusion of North Sea revenue. Meanwhile, expenditure was £12,800 per person, which is £1,200 per person greater than the UK average.