Tuesday 23 November 2010

Fair Play

No surprise that the UK Government is ruling out revision of the Barnett formula (the means by which Wales' share of UK funding is calculated). Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander slammed the door on this yesterday on a visit to the Assembly - see the story here. There is consensus among economists that Wales is losing out from the formula but the UK Government says it doesn't want to tinker with it while they are tackling the deficit, though remarkably the UK Government is prepared in principle (says Mr Alexander on the same visit) to reform the devolution settlement (surely a bigger undertaking?) to allow Wales to raise taxes. But Scotland would be disadvantaged by reform of Barnett (and Mr Alexander is the Lib Dem MP for Inverness). The previous Government also refused to look at Barnett so it is a proper concern (and not a party political one) for Welsh citizens to seek fair play on this, especially in defence of those most reliant on the devolved budget such as people with a serious mental illness.

Meanwhile we are absorbing the Assembly Government's budget plans (see the details here). In fairness the Assembly Government seems to be listening, making the right noises about the NHS and specifically restating the priority for mental health services; they have also stated a priority for secondary and community-based services; and finally they have also given a priority to social care, sending a message to councils to protect the vulnerable. But we will have to make sure that the NHS and councils live up to this rhetoric...