Scotland’s public spending advantage over England and Wales has extended to record levels, after a raft of new spending announcements by Nicola Sturgeon.
Sturgeon recently announced an extension of free school meals and a pay rise for health workers, meaning Scotland now spends £2,000 per person more on public services than England and Wales.
This is a lead of about 20 per cent.
The devolved Scottish government has always spent more per person than Westminster on public services, however this lead has now doubled since its formation in 1999.
The gap has grown particularly quickly over the past 10 years as the Tories have kept using the Barnett Formula, which decides how much public money is allocated to the UK’s devolved governments.
Some have argued that the formula gives an unfair advantage to regions north of the border, however it is seen as essential to stave off support for Scottish independence by unionist political parties.
Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has called for a rethink of the formula to ensure more money goes toward English regions.
Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, told The Sunday Times: “Of the three devolved nations and nine English regions, only Northern Ireland has higher levels of public spending per head [than Scotland].
“In recent years, Scotland’s relative spending advantage has grown: up by nearly £400 per person since 2014-15. This has been, in part, funded by tax increases from the Scottish government, but also due to increased spending by Westminster flowing to Scotland through the Barnett formula and higher social security payments.”