Professor sheds light on public spending

December 21, 2000

Stirling University economist David Bell says the Barnett Formula is not the cause of higher public spending in Scotland.

Professor Bell has produced a paper explaining the workings of the formula, which determines the grants from Westminster to the devolved Scottish Parliament and to the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies.

Higher spending stems from generous settlements when the formula was first introduced and the formula being incompletely applied in the 1980s and 1990s, he says.

The formula is now leading to spending levels converging across the United Kingdom. The planned expansion of public spending in the comprehensive spending review shows it growing more rapidly in England than elsewhere in the country, Professor Bell says.

His research is part of the Leverhulme Trust's "nations and regions" programme based at University College London's Constitution Unit.

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