Wales takes the biggest hit

With a hat tip to Dewi at Slugger O'Toole, there was a nice graphic in the Guardian this week showing UK public expenditure for 2010/11 compared with 2009/10, adjusted for inflation. Click the image to open the article.


As a whole, UK public spending is virtually unchanged, going up by only 0.34%. There's a lot of interesting stuff to digest at leisure, but in the bottom right hand quarter are the devolved expenditures for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I've zoomed in on these and shown them at the same scale for comparison:



As we can see, Scotland has received a 2.95% increase in expenditure in real terms, getting a better deal than the UK as a whole; Northern Ireland has received 2.01% less in real terms; but Wales has suffered a reduction of 3.92% in real terms.

Of course the settlements reflect different devolved responsibilities in the three administrations, but we can make these two points: first, that these responsibilities have not changed between 2009/10 and 2010/11; and second, that because overall UK spending is almost exactly the same it means that the cost of things devolved to Scotland and Northern Ireland but not devolved to Wales would have very little effect on the overall Welsh figure. And even if we focus on the most obvious difference, we can see that Westminster's spending on police and crime was reduced by 3.2%, which is only very slightly less than the Welsh reduction.

So from these figures it's clear that Wales has had to take a much more severe cut in public expenditure than any other part of the UK.

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MH said...

Although it doesn't say so on the Guardian's graphic, I'm fairly certain that the £4.5bn bubble at the top of NI expenditure is Health.

Anonymous said...

I really do feel like a "Little Englander" - why oh why does everyone have to take a hit- yet Scotland rises (again)- really p*** me off.

A few points though:
- why is the N.I budget so low in contrast to Wales (if they, as we are told-have more responsibilities? )

- the Economy and Transport cuts for Wales is really sickening -40% is just woeful. Although I know we have a soft spot for the NHS- surely improving infrastructure is more important in the long term?

Syd Morgan said...

Well, I think we should thank those jolly nice Labour people for allowing us to take the hit for their United Kingdom of great Britain & Northern Ireland. It's their Government of Wales Acts - I & II - and their resistance to us having financial responsibility, which they still oppose. As always with British Labour, it's our rôle to stay at the bottom of the UK pile so they can stay in power.

Anonymous said...

"I really do feel like a "Little Englander" - why oh why does everyone have to take a hit- yet Scotland rises (again)-"

It's political. Scotland politically extracts a higher level of resource from the UK coffers because of its politics. Those politics are justified in my opinion by the historic amounts of oil revenue that the Treasury has in turn taken from Scotland. So Scotland's funds are entirely justifiable.

Being played off against each other inside the UK, in a bid to have a "fairer Britain", only weakens us.

It is absurd that Wales takes such a hit, but let's not blame Scotland.

MH said...

Not sure about NI, 21:22. I've looked at their budget for 2011-11, which puts the Current DEL settlement at £9.89bn and Capital DEL at £1.22bn, so the total is higher than shown on the graphic. This includes Police and Justice, so at a guess I'd say that maybe the 2009/10 settlement didn't include it, and the Guardian has excluded it so as to compare like with like. If anyone knows for sure, please enlighten us.

And it is sad that Economy and Transport takes such a big hit. But investment in infrastructure could be maintained if we had borrowing powers or, failing that, if we set up Build for Wales.


I think we should thank that nice Cheryl Gillan too, Syd. After all, she told us that Wales "is facing smaller cuts than most UK government departments" for the next three years ... I'm sure we'll see how untrue that is when the next year's graphic is published.


I'm not blaming Scotland either, 10:59. This is UK government spending. But I've made a similar point to yours: the biggest obstacle to Wales getting fair funding based on need is that Scotland is over-funded by about £4bn on a needs basis. The solution would be to cut Scotland's block grant, but to make up for that loss by allowing them to keep a proportion of their North Sea revenues.

Anonymous said...

Agree, we must not allow the Westminster Unionist elite to play Scotland and Wales off against one another. The Scottish government's policy is to secure full fiscal autonomy/ independence, both of which entail the phasing out of Barnett in relation to Scotland. This is quite compatible with the goal of fair funding for Wales, removing as it does the Unionist excuse for failing to reform Barnett. It is the British and Scottish Unionists who are dead set against the changes sought by SNP, not the Scottish people.

Beyond this, however, what Plaid ultimately need to do be doing is to start thinking seriously about what kind of fiscal autonomy Wales needs to begin overcoming our dependency on external support. All rhetoric about independence is meaningless without a credible strategic approach to this question.

Anonymous said...

As I pointed out on Devolution Matters a long time ago, the reason for this seems to be to do with local taxation. Non domestic rates are devolved in Scotland and N Ireland, but not Wales, and the UK's spending plans appear to assume a significant reduction in that. See further

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