Tyne & Wear

'Ex-pats' better off in Scotland

Image caption Baby Freddie Lake is better off in Scotland, according to his father

Research commissioned by BBC Newcastle shows that Scotland is spending more on economic affairs than the North East.

It is 08:30 BST in the Lake household and Julien Lake is giving his baby son Freddie his breakfast.

The family live in the Scottish border village of Paxton, which means the 40-year-old makes a daily commute across to England to his work at a Berwick charity.

He is in no doubt that he is better off living in Scotland.

Mr Lake said: "This is a lovely village. The council tax hasn't gone up for three years.

"There are obviously various benefits in terms of prescriptions and eye tests.

University is obviously a long way away for my children but there are just lots of practical benefits really."

As Mr Lake spoons another mouthful of cereal into Freddie's mouth, he reflects on his feeling that it is easier to get things done in Scotland than in England.

"We are looking to convert our garage to a playroom.

'Responsive regime'

"We are talking to planners at Scottish Borders Council and you can get hold of them - they seem to have time to talk. It seems to be a responsive regime."

So what would an independent Scotland mean for the family? Mr Lake is not sure.

Image caption Mr Dixon believes arts budgets are greater in Scotland than England

"At the very best there would be another set of forms to fill in and additional levels of bureaucracy.

"There's a lot of complexity and a certain amount of risk," he says.

With that he heads off on his bike to England and his day job.

Many other workers from the North East and Cumbria have decided to go the "whole hog" and move to Scotland.

From the top of his office block in Edinburgh, Andrew Dixon can see the city spread out before him.

For 21 years, he lived and worked in the North East running first Northern Arts and then the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative.

Now he is the boss of Creative Scotland. He believes he has a bigger budget because arts organisations get better funding than those in England.

But he also feels there are other benefits to being in Scotland.

'Small nation'

He said: "Working in Newcastle was an absolute dream but what you have here is access - today I've had meetings with three Scottish cabinet minsters.

"It's a small nation and one where politicians take an overview of everything that's happening.

"If you're sat in the North of England, Westminster seems a long way away - here it's a short walk of 10 minutes down the road to Holyrood."

Almost 80 miles away Iain Wilson strolls along the High Street in Dumfries.

Image caption Community spirit attracted Iain Wilson to Scotland

He moved from Carlisle a year and a half ago. Although commuting from a rural village to Dumfries is costing him more money, he has no regrets.

"There are a number of fringe benefits - the GP practices seem to be better, the dental charges are cheaper and council tax is cheaper," he said.

Dental charges

But it's the community spirit that's the big attraction for Mr Wilson.

"We've got into a conmmunity network and its been good to get to know a lot more people than I would in the city - even compared to Carlisle which is a really friendly place."

So what would an independent Scotland mean for him?

He said: "If it was out-and-out independence I would vote against - but things would have to change quite radically.

"Taxes would have to go up quite a lot for us to think again about what we've done."

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