Public spending in Wales goes up (sort of)


The easiest story to write in Welsh political journalism is along the lines of "Wales loses out" or "slap in the face/snub to Wales".

I should know. I've written more than my fair share of them during the 24 years I've spent covering Welsh politics at Westminster.

In politics, there is always someone with a grievance who can stake a claim to be a victim of someone else's decisions.

I tend not to get involved in debates about the Barnett formula, which decides changes in the Welsh government's budget, partly because I don't have the right anorak - and others do it better.

But in these days of what opposition politicians call "savage cuts", the Barnett formula is only part of the story of public spending, even in Wales. The latest analysis from the Treasury suggests - contrary to popular belief, perhaps - that "total identifiable expenditure on services" in Wales has actually gone up (in cash terms) under the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition.

In the last year of Gordon Brown's government, the figures (which include the cost of "social protection") stood at £29.022bn, and it has been £29.621bn and £29.842bn in the years since then. In real terms, spending has fallen, although it is still higher than it was in 2008/09.

In real terms, public spending is higher than at any time under the Blair government. (Incidentally, those figures suggest the Welsh government receives and spends around half of public spending in Wales).

The latest figures equate - in real terms - to spending of £9,740 per head in Wales - more than the £8,941 in England but less than the £10,088 in Scotland. That may explain why many English MPs want to scrap a formula many Scots want to keep.

Several of today's newspapers have done the maths and concluded that the English continue to subsidise the Scots.

The Daily Mail calculates that across the UK, spending in real terms fell by £213 last year or 2.13 per cent. In Wales, the comparable fall was £204 or 2.05 per cent - in Scotland, by £117 or 1.15 per cent.

Spending in Wales and Scotland has fallen by less than in England partly because of the much-criticised Barnett formula.

When public spending rises, spending in England and Wales tends to converge. When public spending falls, the formula tends to protect Wales from the scale of the cuts in England.

Keep your eyes peeled for that "slap in the face to England" headline.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    The UK's annual foreign aid budget is about £12bn but the Treasury subsides Wales by about £6bn a year (that's Holtham's conservative figure for the Nats amongst you who like to quote him when it suits you).

    People are playing hell about overseas aid being too high but do they even know how much they subsidise Ulster, Scotland, and Wales by every year? They really might want to pull the plug!

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Totally agree with Boxer, Dimblebore is way out of step. I cannot believe he's seems to think people are making a mountain out of a molehill about the BBC Sav-vile scandal and that BBC is just great and everyone else are whingers. As Mandy Rees Davies once said "He would say that wouldn't he".

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    #3 celticfringe, the Welsh government does not determine the size of your tax bill or the amount of public spending in Wales. Both are completely controlled from Westminster. The UK govt simply remits what it considers to be Wales' share to Cardiff to spend on those functions that are devolved. If WG did not spend the money it would go back to London, not to you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Come on, Dafydd man. You must have had a couple of hundred more characters. You could at least explain which is which. And they are surely equally bores? Perhaps revert to DimbleDee and DimbleDum ??

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Re 56


    The least we can expect is that you talk about the correct Dimbleby!

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    #56 We are straying but..
    Dimblebore claims that the public is over-reacting to a 30-year old schoolteacher absconding with a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
    This is not discomfort with the age gap but of an abuse of trust. A 40-year-old lecturer who has an affaire with his PhD student (~23yrs) should be sacked. A teacher who has an affaire with someone else's pupil - sacked. With his own: prison.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    #54 I put the three possibilities, John: I didn't express a preference. Of course, these are the extremes, caricatures if you like.
    As you probably gathered from my nom de plume (French: sorry Alf) my own taste is more Mrxist (From each: to each) than Tea Party (Darwinian; Thatcherite ? ; any adult male on a bus is a failure).
    But the people of Wales, particularly PC, will have to choose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I'm going to stay off this until Silk repoorts. On other matters, it doesn't take much to get the Daily Mail up on any number of its high horses. Target No.1 is the BBC, so hardly surprising that Dimblebore is complaining about 'relish', but I think the real story here is Dimblebee keeping his job so the Management need shmoozing. After all he's ruined 'Question Time', so every little helps!

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    There have been too few spotlights turned on what elected representatives in Westminster earn and their claims in expenses, until they are found to be fraudulent.

    It's my view that all representatives and leaders in devolved governments, and MEPs too, are too coy on publishing their incomes and expenses paid for by the electorate.

    They talk in comfort, and we turn on each other due to austerity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    ... your "eat what you kill" Boxer, the end of Britain ?

    The problem with that approach is it contrary to "society", not MT's society, but the way peoples cooperate, the way in which social patterns of nations are created.

    Whilst I support local taxation as a principle, the local for me is UK wide, and the obverse of this particular coin is not equal distribution, but fair distribution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    #48 'doesn't change the fact that Wales is being short changed to the tune of £500 million every year due to the Barnett' (formula)
    The questions for Wales are:
    Does it want to be part of a Union, and have a Marxist 'to each according to his needs' improved Barnett solution ?

    Have payouts on a strict capitation basis (say £9500 per head) ?

    Or devolved taxation (eat what you kill) ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.


    It is being potrayed as a procurement cockup between Torfaen and Newport at the heart of this was WG policy on secondary digital learning.

    Torfaen were assured that Newport would be part of project and bought the laptops, but change of direction by Newport after WG change of policy made business case not sustainable to Newport. torfaen stuck with them and waiting till now for WG solution

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    #46 Ah well, I offered.
    'I note with interest you have resorted to language usually associated with MabG, "two centuries of extermination", it comes across as a tad agitated.'
    Read "Bury my heart at Wounded Knee" and become agitated. Lookat the fate of Crazy Horse and Mangas Coloradas. Look at the Black Hills treaties. Become agitated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    48 if Wales is a poorman what does that make England with less spending per head?

    The issue is that the spending per head may be less in England but it is spent more wisely than it is in Wales evidently, as the statistics show and the WG agree Wales has declined in most international league tables.
    John, see
    being potrayed as cockup tbc

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    The topic above doesn't change the fact that Wales is being short changed to the tune of £500 million every year due to the Barnett thanks, as Carwyn Jones himself confirmed. The question is who has the guts to address this scandal? The fact is centuries of London rule has left Wales one of the poormen of Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    ... tell us more Indy, about the 2,500 abandoned laptops !

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    ... I'm afraid Boxer that the victors of the American War of Independence who created a new sovereign nation, the "United States of America", would take issue with your assertions...

    ... yield !

    I note with interest you have resorted to language usually associated with MabG, "two centuries of extermination", it comes across as a tad agitated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    All of this USA twaddle is irrevelant to this blog subject, it is about the shamefull waste of funding by the WG on pet projects while claiming savage cuts, now shown to be not the case, only a 2% reduction.

    Meanwhile the Health Minister fiddles a tune and the Ambulance Authority has the begging bowl out, in Torfaen 2,500 laptops lying idle another change of WG education policy behind it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    John, I expect we are boring people more than usually. We both know the history of Wales and the USA so..
    Can we agree that the conquest of bot was a process, not an event, and move on ??


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