English Taxes pay for Scotland's Prosperity
This week Alex Salmond launched a £1million independence campaign in his speech to Scottish Nationalist Party delegates as it was revealed just how financially better off the Scottish are than the English.
But it's not just the Scottish who are better off than the English. When the Tax Payers' Alliance last examined the figures in 'Unequal Shares: The definitive guide to the Barnett Formula', by former Treasury economist Mike Denham, they found that identifiable public spending per head in England is £7,535 pa (2007-08).
But in Scotland it is 22 per cent (£1,644) higher, in Wales 14 per cent (£1,042) higher, and in Northern Ireland an extraordinary 30 per cent (£2,254) higher. That makes England the poor relation in the United Kingdom and means that English taxpayers' money is being used to finance a better quality of living for those in the other home nations.
The Barnett Formula, which was devised in 1978 to undermine support for the Scottish National Party, is grossly unfair to England. One manifestation of this unfairness is the scandalous situation we have with regard to prescription charges, whereby only patients in England that have to pay these. People in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are exempt.
The Barnett Formula was justified on the grounds that there needed to be 20% higher expenditure in Scotland in order to bring its public services up to the standard in England. The allocation of funds was to be based on relative need. There has been no assessment of need since 1976.
As Scottish independence looms on the horizon, both the SNP and the Coalition Government are going to have some interesting truths to tell voters. The SNP will face questions about how it proposes to pay the bills without massive injections of cash from English taxpayers and how much it will contribute towards the UK's foreign and defence policy. The Coalition Government – made up of two unionist parties – will have to face up to the unfairness of the Barnett Formula.
If they defend it – to reassure Scottish voters that they are financially better off as part of the Union – they will be letting the cat out of the bag to just how much England subsidises Scotland. This will no doubt produce many unhappy voters in England at the next general election, who are sick of reading about free tuition fees and prescriptions in Scotland when the English are seeing such harsh cuts in services.
With the impending breakup of the Union and the public becoming more aware of the financial unfairness and inequality in Britain – that always favours everyone but the English – the English more than ever need a political voice. That voice is the English Democrats.