Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS): 2018 to 2019

GERS estimates the contribution of revenue raised in Scotland toward goods and services.


This report is the twenty-sixth in the series of official published estimates of expenditure and revenue balances of the public sector in Scotland.

GERS is classified as National Statistics and produced in accordance with the principles of the Code of Practice for Statistics. More information about National Statistics, including the latest assessment report on GERS (number 274), is available on the UK Statistics Authority website.[2]

The main methodological changes this year relate to income tax and VAT. These are discussed in Boxes 1.1 and 1.2 respectively in Chapter 1.

The Scottish Government held a public consultation on a potential new publication on devolved finances in Scotland from June to September last year. A consultation response was published in November 2018, setting out the intention to produce a new statistical publication in this area. The Scottish Government is continuing to develop the publication, and will provide a further update once a publication date is confirmed.

Feedback from users of the publication is welcome. A correspondence address is available in the back leaf of the publication. Comments can be emailed to:

Recent Statistical Classification Decisions

On 28 September 2018, the ONS announced that registered social landlords in Scotland had been reclassified to the private sector, following the passing of the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2018 and The Regulation of Social Housing (Influence of Local Authorities) (Scotland) Regulations 2018. This brings the treatment of these bodies in line with their counterparts in England, when the reclassification was made in 2017-18. The reclassification was effective from 19 September 2019, and means that there is a fall in some Scottish public sector revenue and expenditure in 2018-19, which should be borne in mind when making comparisons between Scotland and the UK in this year.

What Questions Does GERS Address?

GERS addresses three questions about Scotland's public sector accounts for a given year:

1. What revenues were raised in Scotland?

2. How much did the country pay for the public services that were consumed?

3. To what extent did the revenues raised cover the costs of these public services?


Public sector revenue is estimated where a financial burden is imposed on residents and enterprises in Scotland.

In general, the way in which revenue is collected means that separate figures for each country and region of the UK are not available for most revenues, although following increased devolution in recent years, more Scottish data have become available. As a result, Scottish public sector revenue is estimated by considering each revenue stream separately. Where Scottish data are unavailable, GERS estimates revenue using a set of apportionment methodologies, refined over a number of years following consultation with and feedback from users. The methodology note on the GERS website provides a detailed discussion of the methodologies and datasets used.[3]


Public sector expenditure is estimated on the basis of spending incurred for the benefit of residents of Scotland. That is, a particular public sector expenditure is apportioned to a region if the benefit of the expenditure is thought to accrue to residents of that region.

This is a different measure from total public expenditure in Scotland. For most expenditure, spending for or in Scotland will be similar. For example, the vast majority of health expenditure by NHS Scotland occurs in Scotland and is for patients resident in Scotland. Therefore, the in and for approaches should yield virtually identical assessments of expenditure. However, for expenditure where the final impact is more widespread, such as defence, an assessment of 'who benefits' depends upon the nature of the benefit being assessed. Where there are differences between the for and in approaches, GERS estimates Scottish expenditure using a set of apportionment methodologies, refined over a number of years following consultation with and feedback from users.

The for approach considers the location of the recipients of services or transfers that public sector expenditure finances, irrespective of where the expenditure takes place. For example, with respect to defence expenditure, as the service provided is a national 'public good', the for methodology operates on the premise that the entire UK population benefits from the provision of a national defence service. Accordingly, under the for methodology, national defence expenditure is apportioned across the UK on a population basis.

Estimates of spending in Scotland are used in some Scottish Government publications, such as the Quarterly National Accounts. However, these do not provide a complete measure of spending, as some types of spending, such as welfare spending, are not reported. The Scottish Government is currently reviewing the potential to provide users with estimates of spending in Scotland, and information on how this would differ from spending for Scotland.

The Data Sources

The source of the revenue data in GERS is ONS's Public Sector Finances, which provides disaggregated figures relating to UK public sector revenue.[4]

The primary data sources used to estimate Scottish public sector expenditure in GERS are Scottish Government accounting data, and HM Treasury's Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses[5] and the supporting Country and Regional Analysis (CRA).[6]

GERS also makes use of the estimates of Scottish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in current market prices published in the Quarterly National Accounts Scotland (QNAS). [7]

Additional Information on the GERS Website

The GERS website contains a number of additional analyses of Scotland's public sector finances. In addition to containing copies of the GERS report from 1990-91 onwards, the website also contains the tables underpinning this edition of GERS in Excel format and statistics providing a consistent time series of Scotland's public sector finances from 1998-99 to 2018-19.

The GERS website can be accessed via

Comparisons to other countries and regions of the UK

GERS does not provide comparisons of Scottish revenue and expenditure with other parts of the UK, as data are not available for 2018-19 for each country and region of the UK. Users who are interested in these comparisons are advised to use the Country and Regional Public Sector Finances publication published by the ONS, available at the link below. A comparison between the ONS and GERS figures for Scotland is provided in Box 1.3.

International comparisons

The Scotland figures in the main tables in GERS are produced to be comparable to the UK figures presented in the ONS Public Sector Finances and the OBR Economic and Fiscal Outlook. These report for the public sector as a whole on a financial year basis. In contrast, organizations such as the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report countries' finances on a calendar year basis and for the government sector only. Figures for Scotland on this basis are available in Table A.4.



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