Barnett formula to Scots triggers anger in Yorkshire

YORKSHIRE councillors have expressed their anger at the major parties promise to stick with an “unfair” spending formula as part of their efforts to persuade Scots to stay in the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all promised to retain the Barnett formula for sharing out public money which sees around £1,200 more per person spent in Scotland.

The promise was made as part of a package of measures promised to Scots in the event of a ‘no’ vote.

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Lord Barnett, the original author of the formula, has long argued it has outlived its purpose and a new system is required.

Speaking at a West Yorkshire Combined Authority meeting today, chairman Coun Peter Box said: “I think there is some concern about some of the announcements that have been made over the last couple of days in particular to do with the Barnett Formula.

“We have been arguing as local government and as a combined authority for a funding system that is transparently fair and equitable.

“At the moment the Barnett formula does not do that.”

The authority is putting together proposals for devolution of key powers and funding from Whitehall to London for the Deputy Prime Minister’s Northern Futures initiative and to influence the Chancellor’s autumn statement.

Coun Box added: “Devolution does not mean simply mean creating an English parliament, I’ve heard some voices saying that.

“Devolution means devolving to city regions, devolving down to combined authorities.

“We don’t believe in new structures being created or extra politicians, the last thing the public wants to see is extra politicians.”

However, Leeds Council Conservative group leader Andrew Carter, a combined authority member, said it was time to have a discussion about the need for new structures such as a directly elected body covering the Leeds City Region. He said a system of politicans being nominated by their councils to make major decisions could only be a short term measure.