The Scottish government has been warned by a spending watchdog that it is failing to publish enough data on public sector spending and borrowing, including billions of pounds worth of pension liabilities.
Scotland’s auditor general, Caroline Gardner, said Holyrood’s rapidly increasing tax and spending powers means it is increasingly important that the public has the fullest possible picture of how much is spent and owed by public bodies.
“It is becoming increasingly important to also understand the overall position of the devolved Scottish public sector as a whole, but there is currently no single set of accounts that shows the position,” Gardner said in her report on the latest Scottish government accounts, which detail overall spending of nearly £37bn by Holyrood.
“In the absence of easily accessible, aggregate information on what the devolved Scottish public sector owns and owes overall, it is difficult for the Scottish parliament, taxpayers and others to get a full picture and understanding about public spending and the longer-term implications for public finances.”
Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s public services spokeswoman, said: “It is clear the consolidated accounts do not present a complete picture of the nation’s finances and there are serious questions to be answered about the gaps in data which fail to record the overall level of our debts. We could be in danger of leaving a mountain of debt for future generations.”
Weren’t pensions a bone of serious contention between the SNP and Labour during the run-up to the independence referendum? It seems to This Writer that this is an area that requires further investigation.
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