End ‘incredibly unfair’ Barnett Formula, says Labour mayoral candidate
Labour’s candidate for West Midlands mayor has called on the Government to ditch the system used to determine devolved nations' funding, arguing it means English regions lose out.
Sion Simon said the Barnett Formula, which dictates the level of public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, should be replaced with a fairer way of distributing funds across the UK in light of regional devolution in England.
As he launched his campaign, Mr Simon said the West Midlands had been left “short changed” compared to Scotland and other areas of England, like London.
Under the existing system, when the UK government increases or decreases funding for departments - such as health and education in England - the Barnett Formula is used to decide how much devolved powers will receive.
But Mr Simon warned that Labour would be damaged politically if it did not demand that English communities get their “fair share of the national pie”.
“Labour is the party of working men and women in England. It was always so,” he said.
“But it will not always be so unless English people, particularly in hard-pressed urban areas, start to feel they’re getting their fair share of the national pie.
“I will fly the English flag in the West Midlands. We have put up with this unfairness for too long."
He argued the combination of Brexit and a new constitutional settlement in England was an opportunity to redress the distribution of funding, and hit out at the last government for not listening to English concerns.
He said: “The convergence of Brexit with a new era of regional government in 2017 brings an opportunity to do something about the UK’s incredibly unfair funding system.
“We’ve been left in a mess. David Cameron and George Osborne abandoned the country.
“Just as generations of London politicians before them left English public services to shrink from the dazzle of new hospitals and schools in Scotland and Wales.
“The Tory government in London has no plan. We must seize the moment and win back the hearts and minds of English voters who feel like they’ve been abandoned too.”
Mr Simon pointed to Treasury figures, which show that while Scotland receives £10,536 per head of public expenditure and London £10,129, the West Midlands gets just £8,750.