Share of spending up

Treasury figures reveal how Wales gets some protection from spending cuts but did not get the full benefit of big increases in the past.

Welsh share of public spending still down on 1999

by Nick Powell
Spending graph
Spending per head by the Welsh Government was 25% above England in 1999, now it's around 15% higher Credit: Welsh Government

The Welsh Government has responded to the news that its share of public spending per head is going up compared to equivalent Whitehall departments. It's issued a graph that shows what's happened over the years since devolution.

As public spending took off in the early years of devolution, the so-called 'Barnett squeeze' meant that Wales slipped from being 25% ahead of England to being 15% ahead. In other words, Wales got a smaller share of a cake that was getting larger.

It had fallen further by 2009 but has gone up again as the system is now limiting Wales' share of cuts, not increases. The fact that Wales gets higher spending per head is usually justified by our relative poverty and greater health needs but those factors aren't actually taken into account.

Welsh share of spending goes up

by Nick Powell

Figures released by the Treasury show that the process that has given the Welsh Government slightly smaller increases in funds than equivalent Whitehall departments has stopped. In fact it has gone into reverse, putting Wales more than 15% above England in terms of spending per head.

  • 2011/12 15.0% more than in England
  • 2012/13 14.6% more than in England
  • 2013/14 15.1% more than in England
  • 2014/15 15.5% more than in England
  • 2015/16 15.8% more than in England

The Barnett Formula, invented to slowly bring Welsh public spending in line with England's, worked on the assumption that overall expenditure would keep going up. Now instead of restricting the Welsh share of any increase, it will limit the share of cuts.

The figures have been released under an agreement between the Welsh Government and the Treasury to monitor the figures for any return of the 'Barnett squeeze' on Welsh spending.

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