Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scrap Barnett...but be careful with its replacement.

Cymru Yfory/Tomorrow’s Wales, whose core mission is to secure proper law-making powers for the National Assembly, wants the Barnett Formula scrapped.

Good, although the reasoning supplied I'm sure will raise a few hackles elsewhere in the United Kingdom; for example:
First, it seems abundantly clear that Barnett gives Wales a really raw deal in comparison with Northern Ireland and Scotland. The figures are pretty stark.

In 2007-08, identifiable public spending (minus social support) per head in Wales was just more than £5,000, with Scotland and Northern Ireland at more than £5,600. This puts Scotland and Northern Ireland at 21% over the UK average, with Wales at only 8%.

This is despite the fact that Wales suffers significantly greater disadvantages.

There is one important omission amongst the comparisons and that last sentence is open to debate to say the least.

Their proposals to replace Barnett, necessitating of course yet more separation and yet another layer of bureaucracy and quangocrats to further impede effective governance, are based on two principles:
Need, which would flow from a new assessment carried out by the commission;

"Need", depending on the setting up of an objective measurement and monitoring system, should be a necessary determinant of how funding is divided out amongst the Uk's countrys and regions.
The intention, over time, to equalise the levels of economic prosperity of the nations and regions of the UK.

The intention over time surely should be primarily to improve the overall economic prosperity of the UK? When the word "equalise" is employed in the areas of income or "economic prosperity" distribution, without overall accompagnying improvements in efficiency and output, it tends to have the effect of "equalising" every sector downwards not upwards. Work together to improve the overall economic prosperity of the United Kingdom and then with a proper and fair division of the resulting increase in wealth, each country and region will naturally increase their economic prosperity. Unless we plan to move to a fully-planned and controlled economy that may mean still disparities between different parts of the UK- but that is the case in every other modern wealthy and successful democratic state.

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