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September 16, 2007

Comments

Richard Thomson

Nice, but misleading. Since the Barnett Formula only allocates to Scotland an ever decreasing percentage of those monies spent in England, the gap is shrinking all the time. Additionally, your figure deals only with identifiable spending, and ignores over £50bn of non-identifiable spending which takes place mainly in London and the South.

Why not take a good look at the regional breakdown provided by the Treasury?

Table 9.2 of PESA 2007 (1st figure is for 05/06 outturn, 2nd is planned identifiable spending for 06/07)

North East £7,814 £8,177
North West £7,481 £7,798
Yorkshire and Humberside £6,949 £7,188
East Midlands £6,205 £6,491
West Midlands £6,757 £7,065
Eastern £5,928 £6,144
London £8,164 £8,404
South East £5,960 £6,304
South West £6,398 £6,677

England £6,835 £7,121
Scotland £8,179 £8,623
Wales £7,784 £8,139
Northern Ireland £8,713 £9,385


Your argument also doesn't pay any heed to the amount of revenues raised to cover that expenditure. If you're arguing that Scotland getting above the English level of spending means that Scotland is subsidised, that would also mean that the rest of England was subsidising London, which is a nonsense argument.

Scotland has 1/12 of the UK population spread out over 1/3 of the UK landmass, which makes it more expensive to provide the sort of services which those in the cities take for granted. What's London's excuse for getting such a high level of government spending?

Eva

I heard Gordon Brown wax lyrical about how the NHS had saved his eyesight. However, drugs which prevent people going blind from macular degeneration are NOT available in England, but freely prescribed in Scotland. Lifesaving cancer drugs anyone? Not if you're English, many drugs are available only in Scotland under the NHS. Now either the Scots are miracle workers with their budget share - or they're getting lots more money than England!

Terry

Richard, a well argued post, but more than half of Scotland’s population lies in the very small central belt. It would be interesting to see how much is allocated to the Highlands.

Scotland is the second richest region in mainland UK, yet they receive the highest level of public spending. You say this is because the land mass is so large, but the evidence is that money is not spent on problems created by this. If it was, Scotland would not have any money left for better pay for nurses, teachers, smaller class sizes, life saving cancer drugs (not available in England), free tertiary education, sight saving drugs and the Scottish NHS having a cash surplus for 2006 whilst many in England are in deficit.

The only reason Scotland get more public money is because successive administrations have used the Barnett Formula to keep the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists at bay.

It is also for this reason the Government devolved power to the nations of Scotland and Wales, rather than the more sensible and easily identifiable regions (Highlands, South Wales, Scottish lowlands, North East, etc).

Given that Scotland is twice the size of Wales and Wales twice the size of NI, it didn’t make much sense to devolve power to the nations. Not unless you’re trying to take the wind out of the SNP’s sails (that worked Tony).

I don’t understand what you mean by “hidden expenditure”. Surely all public expenditure is accounted for?

Sir Hilary Bray Bart.

Richard Thomson has it right.

Do you factor Crossrail into this nonsense? The M25? The DLR?

Try living in Ullapool and availing yourself of all those wonderful public services that folk in the South feel so aggrieved about.

It's a silly argument, and a dangerous one - and I can't understand why Unionists are pushing it. The slippery Salmond is just lapping this kind of artificial fury up.

SPQ

It's interesting to state the argument for independence etc when I, as a 'service user' (I know makes me sound like an undesirable but I'm not!) of Mental Health services find my key services being cut back more and more, not just in Aberdeen and Shire but also the likes of Inverness etc. And this is under Salmond? Huh?

I think an awful lot of monies go to the Central Belt (not sure of the figures though) and the rural areas as always, are left wanting. Just look at rural public transport for example! It's the same across the whole of the UK. Left wanting.

Salmond would bleed Westminster dry given half the opportunity (even after he's wrecked Scotland with independence) and anything that opposes such a hedonistic and narrow minded corruption should be encouraged. Brown would only kow tow to him. He's a liability. Just like his predecessor!

Richard Thomson

Sorry, Terry, coming back to this late:

'You say this is because the land mass is so large, but the evidence is that money is not spent on problems created by this'.

My point is that it should be cheaper to provide certain public services in urban areas than in rural areas - for example, compare the cost per pupil for a secondary school in Edinburgh with a roll of nearly 1,000 pupils(£3,000?) with the same cost for a secondary school in Argyll with a roll of under 100 (prob. £9,000 plus). Same goes for the health services, provision of transport infrastructure etc. You have to concede, it's a factor.

"The only reason Scotland get more public money is because successive administrations have used the Barnett Formula to keep the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists at bay".

Very true. But it still doesn't cover the revenues coming out of Scotland in most years, and the 'benefits' are grossly exaggerated.

"It is also for this reason the Government devolved power to the nations of Scotland and Wales, rather than the more sensible and easily identifiable regions (Highlands, South Wales, Scottish lowlands, North East, etc)".

No. The demand was for a Scottish Parliament, not an enhancement to the local governments which were already in place. Incidentally, it's very easy to define Scotland, but far, far harder to define highland/lowland.

"I don’t understand what you mean by “hidden expenditure”. Surely all public expenditure is accounted for?"

I don't think I used the phrase 'hidden expenditure'. Non-identifiable expenditure, on the other hand, is UK government spending which is deemed to be for the benefit of the entire nation, rather than for the benefit of any particular region or nation. Trouble is, most of this, like defence research, the costs of running government departments, running costs for museums etc, tend to benefit London and the South of England rather than anywhere else. Also, there are categories of expenditure 'identified' in Scotland, such as on courts and tourism, which are classed as non identifiable in England. That means that Scotland (correctly) is allocated her own spending in these areas, but that England is not, thus making the English spending figures look lower than they actually are.


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