THERE are two reasons why English regions like Yorkshire remain the poor relation when it comes to local government spending – and levels of investment in schools and other key services.
The first is the extent to which the Barnett formula, a short-term mechanism introduced in the 1970s to appease nationalists, continues to favour the devolved nations.
The second factor is that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have clear devolved powers which give politicians sufficient scope to push through their political priorities.
Contrast this with England where funding for councils has been cut by around a quarter since 2010 – and areas like Yorkshire which are pushing for co-ordinated action to raise attainment levels.
Yet, while there was some recognition by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the latest Budget that English local government had “made a significant contribution to repairing the public finances”, they can still only spend an average of £1,423 per person compared to £2,309 and £2,237 for Scotland and Wales respectively.
And while the Government is too weak to carry out root and branch reform of funding in the next spending review, including the imbalances exacerbated by the Barnett mechanism, it should be heeding the call from local government leader Jo Miller, also the much-respected chief executive of Doncaster Council, to give English regions greater powers. Not only does this latest analysis strengthen the political, economic and social case for the One Yorkshire devolution model, but it also makes its approval even more urgent.