TABIS. It means "Things Are Better In Scotland".

An acronym coined by the BBC's own money expert, Paul Lewis, who presents BBC Radio 4’s Money Box.

In the Radio Times last year he wrote: “I once coined the acronym TABIS – Things Are Better in Scotland – as a shorthand for the forward-looking social policies of that country. And it gets truer all the time.
“Over the past 25 years devolution has given Scotland limited but growing independence over its social security and tax policies. And they are better."

He referred to Institute for Fiscal Studies research which estimates that the poorest tenth of households in Scotland are £580 a year better off than if they lived in England.

He pointed out how Social Security Scotland has 13 benefits that are better than, or available in, the rest of the UK; and how there are also bigger discounts on council tax for low-income working age people than those in England.

What was true last year is also true now - and can be seen across a range of policy areas to compare how people fare under the Tory government in England and Labour government in Wales.

The SNP’s Research and Rebuttal Unit has looked at the regularly published Accident & Emergency performance statistics - a handy benchmark of how the NHS is coping.

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Data published in September 2023 shows NHS Scotland's A&E's to be the best performing out of the UK's four national health authorities.

The four-hour performance in Scotland was 65.6% compared to 56.7% in Tory-run England, 57.3% for Labour-run Wales and 44.2% in Northern Ireland.

Annual 12 hour waits show that in Scotland, 4.7% patients waited more than 12 hours in an A&E, compared to 10.7% in Tory-run England, 15.8% in Labour-run Wales and 16.3% in Northern Ireland. 

Latest comparable 12 hour statistics in November 2023 show that 10.8% of patients in Tory-run England waited over 12 hours - that was 147,030 people waiting over 12 hours. This compares to 5.6% in Scotland - or 5,923 waits (and 13.8% in Labour-run Wales - 8,558 waits).

The Herald: SNP depute leader Keith Brown

If Scotland's NHS were governed by the Tories there would have been 5,500 more people waiting over 12 hours than there was. And if Labour ran Scotland's NHS like they do the Welsh one there would have been 8,672 more people waiting.

With the major purse strings still controlled by Westminster, Scotland's NHS is still under severe pressures but its performance, its free prescriptions (which aren't available in England), and more NHS staff per population show that things are better in Scotland (TABIS).

The SNP’s Research and Rebuttal Unit also looked at education where, with 57.9% of 25-64 year olds having been in higher education, Scotland has the highest percentage in not only the UK, but in Europe.

The SNP Scotland also has the highest level of spending per pupil in Great Britain, and the highest teacher-pupil ratio. We invested £8,500 per school pupil last year in Scotland, compared to £7,200 per pupil in Tory-run England and Labour-run Wales.

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Plus, with free tuition, parents and students in Scotland are saving up to £37,000 compared to the cost of studying in Tory-run England, or £36,000 compared to Labour-run Wales.

As with health, education shows things are better in Scotland (TABIS) where the decisions are made by the people of Scotland.

How about the economy where Scotland has limited powers? Those limited powers cover areas like attracting investment and the taxation of local businesses. We can make decisions and create an environment that helps both businesses and workers.

On this matter, Scotland's economy is one of the best performing parts of the UK. 

It is the top performing area outside London and the South East, with the third highest wages and highest value in goods and services per person in 2021.

In 2023, earnings in Scotland grew faster than any other part of the UK - including London and the South East.

Scotland’s GDP per person has grown faster than the UK’s since 2007 - with GDP per person growing by 10% in Scotland, compared to 6% at a UK level.

Wages for full time employees rose faster in Scotland than in the UK between 2022 and 2023 - with gross median weekly earnings up by 9.7% in Scotland, compared to 6.2% for the UK.

Again, like health and education, the economic landscape shows things are better in Scotland (TABIS) where the decisions are made by the people of Scotland.

And how about crime? Whilst like-for-like comparisons are not directly approximate, because multiple crimes are recorded in Scotland whilst only the most serious are counted in England and Wales, research by Statista shows the trend for crime in Scotland is far, far better than in Tory-run England & Wales.

This research shows that during the period between 2002 and 2022 "the crime rate of England and Wales has usually been the highest in the UK, while Scotland's crime rate has improved the most, falling from 93.4 crimes per 1,000 people in 2002/03, to just 52.3 by 2021/22".

When it comes to tackling crime, the evidence again suggests that things are better in Scotland (TABIS) when it comes to the decisions where the power lies with the representatives of the people of Scotland.

So, when it comes to health, the economy, education, tackling crime and social security, the evidence shows "Things Are Better In Scotland” (TABIS).

That's because the policies behind those issues are a result of decisions made in Scotland by the elected representatives of the people of Scotland, not Westminster.

A Westminster system dominated by parties with the same agenda on cuts, tax, bankers' bonuses, child benefit, tuition fees and private sector involvement in the NHS.

We know TABIS but just imagine how much better things would be if Scotland could make all of the decisions that affect it, instead of those Westminster parties?

Keith Brown is the MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane and the SNP Depute Leader