By Russell Bruce

We reported last month on the overblown Treasury estimates of the costs of setting up the additional departments an independent Scotland would require following independence.

In a report released on Sunday, Transitioning to a new Scottish state, Professor Patrick Dunleavy of the London School of Economics (LSE) sets out the assessment of the LSE Public Policy Group on the costs and savings of setting up the departments an independent Scotland would require.

In the executive summary to his report Professor Dunleavy writes –

“Every transition to a new state has some uncertainty and a degree of risk. But there are no bases for extreme anxiety about an independence transition in Scotland.

“The Scottish government’s record in public management is a good one, its published plans for transition are relatively specific and reasonable, and the long-run viability of a Scottish state looks strong.

“The main current uncertainties arise from the London government’s apparent reluctance to do any planning for, or to make clear to Scottish voters, how a transition to independence would be handled at their end.”

Professor Dunleavy reiterates his assessment, last month, of the set-up costs as – up to £200 million. The Treasury mistakenly misused a calculation Professor Dunleavy provided to the last Labour government on the costs of setting up a new major Whitehall department by applying this calculation to the cost of establishing180 public bodies in Scotland, many of which are already in existence.

The Treasury’s first £2.7 billion calculation was then revised, but conflated the IT costs of new systems in their revised calculation of £1.5 billion. As Professor Dunleavy points out these are longer-term investment costs with potential to generate long-term savings and are subsequent to the establishment of a new department.

The LSE report has identified the six directorates the Scottish Government presently operates would be expanded to nine reconfigured directorates. At present the Scottish Government operates with 5000 civil servants and this would be expanded to around 27,000 with the transfer of civil servants, already working in Scotland for HMRC and the UK Department of Work and Pensions.

Professor Dunleavy writes that there would be “a big change in the scale of the civil service, but not much change in how it operates” in Scotland at present.

The Civil Service structure in Scotland follows a modern governance ‘directorates’ structure that the report describes as an effective way of organising, in contrast to the deeply embedded ‘silos’ of Whitehall departments.

The LSE authors have identified 206 UK public bodies relevant to Scotland and have put forward their assessment of the number a modern governance structure, as operated in Scotland, would require to complete the transitional process to full statehood. Reducing 206 bodies by 70 to 136 represents a cut of a third and would achieve considerable long-term efficiency savings.

Referring to a 2010 study examining changes to Whitehall departments over a 30-year period, Professor Dunleavy writes, ‘we heard many horror stories of the incredible behaviour of UK Prime Ministers in forcing through badly designed changes of departments over a weekend.

“In one extreme case a top minister was two minutes away from arriving at his new department during a cabinet reshuffle and Whitehall reorganisation, when the department was suddenly merged by the PM with another one. The minister had to be made Foreign Secretary to compensate him for the shock of it all.

“Especially under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown the pace of Whitehall changes became severely dysfunctional.”

On the cost of new IT systems Professor Dunleavy’s report is remarkably helpful in demonstrating Scotland could gain a major cost advantage in introducing new IT systems for tax and welfare. He notes fully half of UK major IT contracts are due for renewal at the same time and points out renewal is expensive which he describes as “a very costly and often shambolic process in UK government.”

The report concludes Scottish taxpayers will have to pay for modernisation spending “whether the nation votes Yes or No.”

He notes that IT is cheaper and more effective in states with a population of 5 to 10 million and cites Sweden as an example of a country with more modern and flexible systems.

Professor Dunleavy examines, in useful summaries, key examples of costs and savings in the establishment of the Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency (SSIA), The Scottish Defence Force, Foreign Affairs, and Taxes and Benefits departments to fully complete the transition process.

He concludes, “The long-term viability of an independent Scottish state is generally high.”


2014-06-23 07:01

I’m not sure how the No side can rubbish this analysis, so it will probably be ignored and they will make misleading statements by taking quotations out of context and allow the pliant MSM and BBC to do their work for them.

I hope the YES campaign have a strategy to get this clarity to the public.
2014-06-23 07:20

“The Treasury mistakenly misused a calculation”?

So incompetence as opposed to a deliberate attempt to deceive? OK, I can go with that view, although I have my doubts. I rather think its a mixture of both incompetence and deceitfulness.

But one out of two ain’t bad. 😀
2014-06-23 07:38

Hmmm, I was intrigued in Money Week’s “The End of Britain” program that the British establishment ran the Empire with 4000 civil servants.

I don’t advocate running Scotland with 400 civil servants, but the point is we should let efficiency dictate the size of our institutions, and necessity dictate which institutions we instigate, maintain, or get rid off.

Our societal institutions will evolve to fit our society. Not the other way round.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what Prof Dunleavy has said, but the preparatory work for our independent institutions should be looking to other societies beyond the UK and adopting the best practice wherever we find it, rather than tinkering with a system which is grievously inefficient.
2014-06-23 08:44

When I left Scotland for the US for the first time there was no Ministry for Communities, none for Children, nothing for Women and nothing for three legged dogs that walk backwards. These were all introduced by Labour and the corresponding bureaurocracy that goes with them plus attending costs that we all have to bear in taxation.
Who needs them ?. Surely we are all adult enough to clear the state away from our everyday lives and to live up to a standard rather than down to a lowest common denominator.
We don’t need plethoras of departments of state to look after us, we are perfectly capable of doing that on our own.
Trimmed down government and the state the size needed by 5.3 million people and out taxation levels would reflect that, ie, a heck of a sight lower than that due to Westminster.
2014-06-23 09:23

And let’s not forget the quangos either…

2014-06-23 09:05

A bit o/t.
Wee Ginger Dug tells me that the Tories have joined a group in the European Parliament which includes the Flemish right wing party N-Va who are in favour of independence from Belgium and who support Scottish independence.

Who knew Davie was a closet Yes man.
Marga B
2014-06-23 10:30

Weegie – it’s the other way round, Flemish N-Va has joined the Tories in ECR, leaving the Liberals who fall from third to fourth place in EP group rankings.

One problem has been the arrival of a virulently anti-independentist Spanish group, accepted by ALDE to up their numbers, forcing ALDE to support the “indivisibility of member states” as condition to join.

But this alienated, N-Va, who then joined Cameron in the ECR leaving Catalan independist Liberal, Tremosa, isolated.

Tremosa too may be forced to join ECR to escape the anti-independence thugs, but this will not go down well in Catalonia and he’s fighting for an ALDE vice-presidency in compensation. As a conservative, he can’t join the SNP in EFA-Greens.

ECR have apparently invited independentist Tremosa to join them too, saying he will get access to Cameron and Obama through them!

2014-06-23 09:29

I think I heard Alistair Carmichael rightly this morning with Gary Robertson when He replied to a question of UK Gov cooperation, or lack of it, which would help the Scottish Government prepare best possible budget figures for setting up the multi-agencies needed.

He said it was a considered and deliberate position of the UK Gov., or/and him personally, not to play ball, because after a YES vote he would be a member of an independent Scotland. So, is this an admission he would prefer a scorched earth situation for the many voters who sent him to Westminster in the belief that he would represent their interests.

Of course, with the sole exception of Tom Johnston, who was a veritable giant he’s doing no different from any previous Secretary of State ‘Against’ Scotland.

Make it YES and him redundant!
Ready to Start
2014-06-23 12:25

Sorry o/t

Please remember to return your UK propaganda booklet to:

Better Together, FREEPOST RTAU-ZCRB-TELS, 5 Blythswood Square, Glasgow, G2 4AD

in order that it can properly be charged to the NO campaign during the regulated period.
2014-06-23 14:08

I just got this “What staying in the United Kinkdom means for Scotland”
I will be returning it to the Scottish Office without a stamp.I also heard Osborne talking about connecting the big cities in the North of the country,stupid me I thought the North was up in Scotland but he was meaning North England cities.

High-speed rail ‘needed in north’
2014-06-23 14:40

And make it as heavy as possible.

2014-06-23 14:48

[quote name=”RTP”]I just got this “What staying in the United Kinkdom means for Scotland”
I will be returning it to the Scottish Office without a stamp.I also heard Osborne talking about connecting the big cities in the North of the country,stupid me I thought the North was up in Scotland but he was meaning North England cities.

North England cities, he’s meaning Manchester & Birmingham,they  ‘re what Westminster thinks is the north of the country.
2014-06-23 14:58

I suspect BT will quote extensively from the first sentence of the Professor’s summary and may quote it in full in the ‘quality’ press.

“Every transition to a new state has some uncertainty and a degree of risk.”

On an ‘I’m a ProudScotBut, but no buts’ basis.
2014-06-24 13:20

Do I correctly read 22000 new civil service jobs in Scotland?
2014-06-24 14:54

My reading is the 27000 already exist in Scotland – 5000 on SGgov payroll 22000 on UKgov payroll.

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