Why the notorious Barnett formula needs to be abolished

Why the notorious Barnett formula needs to be abolished

The late Lord Barnett, devised this formula in 1979 as a short term expedient. He himself said that this formula was outdated and confirmed that it was never based on need, despite the frequent assertions to the contrary made by Gordon Brown and others. The ratio for increases has not been revised since the creation of the formula in 1979, and is based on population rather than need’
The current ratio, based on relative 1979 population figures, is 10% for Scotland and 5% for Wales and helps to determine the size of the Northern Ireland grant when the overall public spending in England rises. (There are no good records of the grants falling when expenditure in England falls). The result has been that public spending per head in England is far below that of the rest of the UK leaving less to apportion throughout England.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated there were 64.1 million people in the UK in June 2013. Estimated populations of the four constituent countries of the UK were 53.9 million (84%) in England, 5.3 million in Scotland (8%) and 3.1 million (5%) in Wales. Clearly in relation to Scotland and the UK the ratio has fallen and there is no rationale to the current formula which apportions even more than Barnett calculated in relation to population share to Scotland.

Thus, based on ONS figures for 2012-2013 in real terms, £464,102 million was available to spend on public services in England (£8,676 per head), in Scotland £54.875 million (£10,327 per head), Wales £30,362 million (£9,877) and Northern Ireland £20,176 million(£11,064) . Clearly England is being short changed by British governments. While there is no-one in England to stand up for us in Parliament this situation will never end and we will continue to see cutbacks in the health service and elsewhere and the selling off of English national assets such as forests and portions of our national parks.

Scilla Cullen

Membership Secretary

Campaign for an English Parliament