No plans to reform the Barnett formula = No Equal funding for England

In the House of Commons last month there was an evidence session on intergovernmental relations between Scotland and the UK. The Scottish Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry into The Relationship between the UK and Scottish Governments with an evidence session focusing on mechanisms for managing intergovernmental relations and the impact of Brexit.

I understood that Scotland was still part of the UK!

Meanwhile in England a Local Government Spending inquiry has been set up.

Scope of the inquiry: Central government funding to English local authorities fell by almost 50% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2017/18. During the same time that successive governments have reduced their funding, local authorities have faced growing demand for key services such as social care and housing, as well as new cost pressures like the New Living Wage.

The Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry into Financial sustainability of local authorities earlier this year found that local authorities were under enormous pressure: those with social care responsibilities overspent their service budgets by over £1 billion in 2016-17, and there is evidence of service reductions across a number of areas such as waste collection, libraries and bus services.

However, in its response to the Committee’s July report, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government rejected a number of key recommendations. Ahead of the 2018 Spending Review, the Committee recommended that the Ministry put transitional arrangements in place to mitigate the effects of substantial changes in funding. However, the Ministry refused to commit details of any transitional arrangements. It also said it had no plans to work with the sector and publish a shared definition of local authority financial sustainability or methodology for identifying which local authorities are at risk, and said it would not publish work it is doing with other government departments to understand the pressures facing local authorities.

On 26 November the Committee will ask the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government how it plans to secure the long-term financial future of local authorities. Examining the Ministry’s response to the Committee’s previous report, Members will address concerns about the Ministry’s lack of transparency in relation to the work it does on tackling local financial sustainability and how it plans to provide assurance to local authorities about future funding

No plans to reform the Barnett formula then, which ensures every other part of the so-called UK has greater funding per head than we in England.

Scilla Cullen

Director and Membership Secretary