Monday, 23 June 2008

Spain Outstrips Wales in High Tech Infrastructure

It is quite obvious that Spain has benefited tremendously from the influx of EU funds, as infrastructure here on the Costa is highly developed and high tech.
Examples are the disposal of garbage into underground chambers and the toilet facilities in Burgerking where lights switch on and off automatically as one enters and leaves. Transportation is also very efficient with high-speed trains linking the major cities, such as the AVE trains now linking Madrid with Malaga.

Alan in Dyfed in Spain

Wales underfunded for decades – report
Jun 23 2008 by Martin Shipton, Western Mail

NEWLY released UK Government papers provide evidence that Wales has been systematically underfunded by hundreds of millions of pounds over more than three decades.

Unearthed documents suggest that calculations for how much money Wales should receive – based on economic data from 1977 – were seriously flawed.

The new information confirms what has long been suspected by some academics and politicians, and will encourage those who want the Treasury’s method of allocating money to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to be revised.

The evidence that Wales has for many years been short-changed is contained in documents released by the Scotland Office following a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

An unidentified applicant asked to see two files on the issue kept in the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Originally the UK Government refused to release the papers, but was ordered to do so by the Information Commissioner. A mooted appeal to the Information Tribunal has now been abandoned, and the two files amounting to hundreds of pages have now been published on the Scotland Office website.

Currently, Treasury allocations made to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are based on the so-called Barnett formula, devised in the late 1970s when Labour’s Joel (now Lord) Barnett was Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Since it was introduced, the Celtic nations have received block grants based on their proportion of the overall UK population.

The documents show that, according to a Treasury calculation, Wales in 1976-77 was allocated 6% less than it would have been if funding was based on need. In 1984, Treasury officials wrote: “The results imply that, relative to England, ‘actual’ expenditure in 1976/77 exceeded ‘need’ by about 3% in Scotland, by about 6% in Northern Ireland, and fell short of ‘need’ by about 6% in Wales.”

Despite having identified this shortfall in funding for Wales, no attempt was made to increase the amount of funding for Wales, even when it was suggested that Scotland’s funding should be cut.

A large proportion of the material in the documents involves behind-the-scenes attempts by the Treasury to reduce funding for Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the resistance at the Scottish Office and Northern Ireland to any such proposal. At one point, it was implied by a senior official at the Scottish Office that George Younger, the Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland, would resign if Treasury funding for Scotland was cut.

One of the documents states: “When he met the Chief Secretary on April, 12 the Secretary of State made it clear that whatever any studies showed he could not conceive, of circumstances in which he would be able to announce a reduction in the Scotland block’s share of public expenditure.

“Such an announcement would make his position politically untenable, would further erode the Government’s support in Scotland, and would help to rekindle demands for devolution.”

Shockingly, Treasury officials at one point argue that cuts of up to £100m a year could be imposed in Scotland without opposition MPs or the public noticing.

The suggestion was rejected by officials at the Scottish Office on the basis that academics and journalists would definitely notice.

Last night, Eurfyl ap Gwilym, Plaid Cymru’s economics adviser and one of his party’s nominees for a seat in the House of Lords, said: “This material is extremely interesting and proves what many of us have known for a long time – that Wales has been seriously underfunded for many years.

“We are talking about many hundreds of millions of pounds which ought by justice to have come to Wales.

“It is very clear from the papers that it was political considerations, rather than abstruse technical reasons, that determined the failure to revise the formula. Successive UK Governments have been concerned about the political consequences in Scotland of revising the Barnett formula.

“Although the content of this material is historical, the failure to rectify this funding injustice continues to have a significant effect on public services in Wales.

“It is vitally important the National Assembly’s finance committee is provided with expert advice to monitor the allocation of funds from the Treasury. There is also a powerful case for getting the National Audit Office to scrutinise such funding rigorously.”

Under last year’s One Wales coalition agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru, a commitment was made to set up a commission to investigate the funding of the Assembly. So far, no further announcements about such a commission have been made.

1 comment:

kerdasi amaq said...

I saw some time back, that Wales pays less in tax than the government spends there. Don't take anything that the English media says at face value. Do your sums! My own bet is that the amount of tax credited to England is overstated.