One of the problems with launching yerself into a rant is that you rant first and check later. And that’s what I did yesterday. As I was writing yesterday’s article, I had a feeling I was missing something bleedin’ obvious. And it’s now been pointed out to me by readers who are more observant than I am that the obvious thing I was missing is that in the UK, food is zero-rated for VAT.
Food isn’t zero rated for VAT in every European country. Some of you may know the Dug lived in Spain for many years. We’ve been back in Scotland for 8 months now, and I had forgotten that food here doesn’t incur VAT. Easy mistake to make – because food bills are not actually any cheaper in the UK. And the fish counter in Scottish supermarkets is rubbish too – but that’s by the by. If you really want a fish counter heaving with the very best of Scottish seafood, much of which is still alive in tanks where it stares back at you and makes you feel guilty for considering having it for tea, you’ll have to go to Mercadona or Hypercor in Murcia.
However the point of the article still stands, even though there will be no tax gains for an independent Scotland on items like Kirriemuir Gingerbread or baked beans which are zero rated for VAT. There will be tax gains for an independent Scottish Treasury on non-food items, and the total amount which will accrue to the Scottish Treasury across the entire retail sector will still run into billions of pounds. The money which we spend in retail chains which are not headquartered in Scotland does not currently figure as Scottish revenue in UK Government statistics. That was the point of the article, it’s just funnier to waffle on about Kirriemuir Gingerbread and baked beans than economic tables.
So sadly we’ll have to say goodbye to ideas of starting a Scottish space programme with a tower of baked beans, and instead think about starting one with a mountain of flat screen tellies, toilet duck and deep clean skin cleanser. Or maybe Michelle Mone’s bras can be adapted to make a sling shot to shoot Scottish astronauts into space. Or possibly even Ms Mone herself, as she’s very keen to tell us she doesn’t fancy living in an indy Scotland.
Thanks to the folk who pointed out the error. It’s good to have a laugh about our indy debate at times, but it’s even more important that we get it right.