Devolution at Risk from English 'Envy' over Cash for Scots

Daily Mail (London), May 28, 2010 | Go to article overview

Devolution at Risk from English 'Envy' over Cash for Scots


Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter

ENGLISH 'jealousy' over the level of Government cash handed to Scotland threatens the future of devolution, according to a new report.

Published today, it warns that Prime Minister David Cameron faces a 'backlash' unless he ends the system that gives Scots a greater share of public money.

Government spending is now almost [pounds sterling]1,200-per-head higher north of the Border than it is in England.

The report, by Left-of-centre think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), urges Mr Cameron to scrap the Barnett formula that determines Scotland's funding. The new study comes only a day after another think-tank, the Centre for Public Policy for Regions, warned that Scotland is facing a [pounds sterling]1.5billion cut to its budget next year as the new UK Government tackles the deficit left by Labour.

This includes [pounds sterling]333million that should be cut from this year's Scottish budget.

But Mr Cameron has allowed First Minister Alex Salmond to postpone the cut until 2011, which means the impact of any job losses will not be felt until after the next Holyrood election.

Guy Lodge, associate director of IPPR, said yesterday: 'Holding off cuts to the block grant until 2011-12 might help David Cameron to win friends in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but it risks a backlash from England - particularly those poorer areas which already look jealously at the funding those parts of the UK receive.' The report calls for more 'systematic and regular use' of intergovernmental ministerial meetings between the Holyrood and Westminster administrations.

It adds: 'In the longer term, the so-called Barnett formula - by which devolved administrations' level of grants are set - needs to be reformed so that is fair to all parts of the UK, and the devolved administrations need to be given greater fiscal autonomy to raise their own revenue where they wish to do so.' Alan Trench, a contributor to the report and research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said: 'Devolution has had an easy ride so far, with Labour dominating all three governments in Britain and generous public spending allocations. …

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