England ‘will be hardest hit’ by cuts

By Sam Dale

Scotland and Wales will get a better deal than England from the post-election spending cuts promised by the three main parties, claims a report published today.

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) study claims existing disparities between the devolved regions could widen.

The potential increase in disparity is blamed on the current allocation method, the Barnett formula.

Although UK spending will drop overall the considerable spending differences between the regions will only grow.

“Although spending across the UK will fall overall, the spending disparities that currently exist between the devolved nations and England, which are the source of considerable and growing tension, may actually widen during a period of spending retrenchment.

“Certainly the spending gap will not narrow in coming years,” the report stated.

The IPPR give two reasons; firstly health and education form the basis of the grant and are being ringfenced by the Conservatives and Labour.

Secondly, the Barnett formula is designed to create equal spending per head in the four nations.
But this method means the spending will fall less in the devolved regions than in England.

The IPPR warns: “Public opinion may not tolerate a situation whereby the devolved administrations, and Scotland in particular, is perceived to be suffering less pain than England.
Perception of Scotland getting ‘more than its fair share’ has grown in recent years from 22% in 2003 to 40% in 2009.