Barnett holds Wales back

The Barnett Formula was devised in the late 1970's as an interim means of funding the Welsh and Scottish devolved bodies that may have been set up if the devolution referenda of 1979 had succeeded. If Scotland and / or Wales had voted yes in sufficient numbers in 1979 the formula would have been reviewed, as intended, within a year or two.

Barnett wasn't perceived to be fair at its outset - it was just a stopgap. If it wasn't fair at the time there is no way that it can be claimed to be fair 28 years later. I can see no justification, whatsoever, for continuing with Barnett as the funding formula for Wales today.

Our Governor General, and other anti-Welsh Labour MPs, however, are opposed to the funding issue being re-visited.


Their excuse is that it may lead to Wales getting less money. I find this attitude reprehensible. If Wales is getting more than its fair share through an unfair system then that is wrong, it is morally indefensible. If Wales gets less through a fair system, then so be it, fairness is paramount not national or political self-interest.

Without a review of funding the National Assembly is in a catch 22 position. The Assembly can ask for new rights and responsibilities under the 2006 Government of Wales Act. If new rights and responsibilities are granted to the Assembly from Westminster, the Westminster funding for those responsibilities is not passed on. The funding has to be found out of the current Barnett Formula block grant. Any additional responsibilities that have financial implications mean that the Welsh fund is spread thinner. Every new responsibility means less funds for existing responsibilities.

Of course, this situation suits those who want to prove that Wales is incapable of governing its self, because too many responsibilities, even if they are allowed under the 2006 Act will be beyond the financial resources of the Barnett Formula.

The truth of the matter is that those who oppose a review of the Barnett Formula are more interested in keeping Wales under Westminster's thumb than they are in finding a fair formula that allows Wales to flourish.

Barnett holds Wales back - and that is why anti-Welsh Labour is opposed to reviewing the formula.

Hat Tips: CEP News; Peter Black AM


  1. As I understand Barnett we get a pro rata amount of whatever Westminster chooses to spend in England on matters that are devolved in Wales. It follows that if the aspects of Police expenditure that are determined in the Home Office is evolved to Wales we get our allocation. However if Westminster then decides to spend less on that element of expenditure in England our budget goes down too. The consequence is that nothing is determined by needs here. It all follows from Westminsters decisions to spend or not in England.
    All we can do here is move money around.
    I too believe that it is high time that the Barnett formula was reviewed and should be so regularly irrespective of any anticipated outcome.

  2. It needs to be reviewed, thats for sure but we have to be prepared for what comes out of the review.
    It may not be to our advantage .We need to get all the facts and evidence before we press the case.
    There are also the consequences to our Scottish compatriots

  3. The aspect that always concerned me was that any review would greatly reduc ethe money going to Scotland - which would be inedible fror Labour - and would lead to 'horsetrading' that would render the review pointless. Still, I'm happy to see a review by the Assembly going ahead - even if I'm trying to understand what difference it will make

  4. its not the review I object to but the attitudes of the Labour MP's who don't want to let go of the power they have, attitides which are never challenged by the press here in Wales.

    if we have less block grant then maybe we need to get off our backsides and start generating the income ourselves here in Wales.