Spending - the counter argument
More on spending. Here’s the perspective from inside the UK Ministerial tent. They counter the concern being voiced as to the impact on the devolved territories: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
By coincidence, the Northern Ireland Finance Minister Peter Robinson is in London today for talks with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andy Burnham. It’s part of a series of bilateral negotiations.
The line from Whitehall is that absolutely nothing is being done which unfairly works against Scotland (or the other devolved administrations.)
It’s said that Scotland argued that their spending increase should be based upon a particular base line - while the Treasury insisted, as in the past, upon a lower base line, excluding exceptional items.
It’s said further that some departments of the UK Government in Whitehall will get no increase. Others - particularly health - may get a significant increase.
Scotland, as in the past, will receive the standard Barnett consequentials - that is, a proportion based on population of the increase or decrease in comparable Whitehall departments. Broadly, those English departments which match the powers devolved to Scotland.
The line is that Scottish Ministers are basing their claims of a potential shortfall upon their own inflated calculation of what Scotland gets now, of the existing spending baseline.
In other words, Scotland is starting from a different - and erroneous - point to that used by the Treasury.
One UK Government source said that to suggest Scotland would suffer disproportionately was “a mis-statement - what others might call a lie.”
Presumably, we will all be able to judge, dispassionately, once the figures from the Comprehensive Spending Review are published.