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Is it time to review the Barnett formula?

The so called Barnett formula has been a thorn in the side of many governments in Westminster as it has attracted real anger from many of the population who live in England. Despite being the main contributor to UK Plc and raising the most taxes across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the payment per head of population from the central government pot leaves England bottom of the pile. So why has it not been reviewed?

Many people will not be aware but the Barnett formula has been reviewed on a number of occasions to take into account the cost of living and population growth (the last being 2002). As a consequence the Scottish element for example has fallen in real terms but it still receives significantly more money per head of population than England. The split is as follows :-

England £7,121 per head of population

Scotland £8,623

Wales £8,139

Northern Ireland £9,385

While many people talk about the Barnett formula as if it has some legal standing or formal recognition on the statute books, it does not. There is no legal requirement to use the formula and the Treasury could actually decide to change it tomorrow. It is not hard to see who the biggest losers would be if it was abolished in the future!

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