Barnett Formula Committee publish evidence call

04 February 2009

The House of Lords Committee on the Barnett Formula have today launched their Call for Evidence. The Ad-Hoc Committee, which will sit for one Parliamentary session and report before the summer recess, are inviting interested parties to submit written evidence on the purpose, methodology and application of the Barnett Formula.

The Committee will consider the Formula’s suitability as means of determining funding for the UK’s devolved administrations. They will examine its calculation mechanism and consider potential alternatives to the formula.

The Committee’s remit excludes considerations of the suitability of the devolved administrations tax raising powers - or lack of them, political aspects of the devolution settlement, and how funds are distributed once they reach the different regions of the UK.

Areas the Committee invite written evidence on include:

  • Are the present disparities in public expenditure per head of population between the countries of the UK a consequence of the Formula? To what extent are those disparities related to need?
  • What effect does the Barnett Formula have in terms of equity and fairness across the UK as a whole?
  • Has convergence of levels of public spending in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on the English level of spending happened, and if not why?
  • Are sufficient data available to enable a clear understanding of how public spending is distributed across the UK?
  • What additional data would be necessary to undertake a new needs assessment, or otherwise to reform the Formula? Who should carry out this the collection and publication of such data?
  • How effective, appropriate and fair are the processes and criteria by which HM Treasury determines matters relating to the Barnett Formula?
  • Should the Barnett Formula be (a) retained in its current form, (b) amended or (c) replaced entirely?

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Monday 2 March 2009.

Commenting Lord Richard, Chairman of the Committee, said:

"The Barnett Formula has become increasingly controversial as a method of allocating funds to the UK’s regions since the devolution settlement of 1999.

"It is time for a thorough exploration of the workings of the formula so we can have a better idea of whether it is still a suitable way for distributing public money. We will be looking in detail at many aspects of the formula from its impact on equity and fairness across the UK, to the management of the formula by the Treasury.

"We would welcome written evidence from anyone interested in this issue. We will be holding public evidence sessions with a broad range of witnesses over this Parliamentary session and aim to publish our report before the summer recess."

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