Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Wales short changed

"There is no reason to believe that replacing Barnett with a needs-based system should be costly in aggregate for the UK Government. In fact, the reverse is likely to be true. Reform would therefore be completely consistent with the UK Government’s focus on deficit reduction." so says David Miles a member of the Holtham Commission.
If this is true and all the evidence points to it being so, then the decision to postpone consideration and reform of the Barnett formula would seem to be perverse and illogical. Then why the delay? Well there could be two reasons. The first and perhaps the most likely that in the haste to put together the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats it was easier to kick the whole issue to touch than to give it proper consideration.
But another  reason to postpone consideration of the issue has more to do with political expediency. Its easier to upset the Scots than the Welsh.. What Holtham makes clear is that our northern Celtic friends have done quite nicely out of Barnett.
To change to a fairer more rational policy would see our Scottish cousins loose a shed load of cash.
Now to do this before elections to the Scottish Parliament would make the Westminster governing parties even more unpopular over the border. Both could lose what little support they have in elections for the Scottish Parliament that take place next year.
So despite the well argued case that Holtham puts forward  his report will gather dust for a while yet.

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