Thursday, November 01, 2007

Barnett Formula: Choose choice? Embrace difference

Much of the hostility to the settlement for Scotland under the Barnett Forumla (excellent wiki), which is the fulcrum for Tory dis-unionism rests on the bare figures by country reported by many bloggers since Cameron lifted his own kilt and mooned Scotland. Skipper for example.

But unpacking the England total we find London, from whence much criticism emanates, gets the same sort of per capita figure as Scotland. And look at tax take vs spend we also find Scotland on the money.

Costs are quite different of course. Where things are close together - unless to the point of congestion - it quite simply costs less to deliver many services. Trunk roads and passenger transport being the most obvious examples.

The other distortion here - also seen in coverage of so-called postcode lotteries - is that devolving budgets and choice means creating difference.

If you want to pick up the stick of local delegation you will find choice at one end and difference at the other. You cannot pick up one without the other.

Universal high quality services with little local difference would in fact prove easier to explain as being fair than a swings and roundabouts choice fest.

Back Universal days the complaint, remember?, was of dirigism from centriste Stalinists and of "one size fits all". Choose choice? Embrace difference.

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