The deal done by Theresa May’s Government to ensure the support of the DUP in Parliament has now led to a formal dispute between the UK Government and those of Scotland and Wales.
The deal will see £1billion worth of funding going to Northern Ireland in return for the votes of their MPs.
In a joint letter to Elizabeth Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the two devolved administrations of Wales and Scotland state:
“It is unacceptable for the UK Government to fund mainstream devolved services in Northern Ireland without applying the Barnett formula. Your decision to “bypass” the Barnett formula undermines and discredits the existing funding framework. Applying the formula in the usual way would have resulted in an additional £1.67 billion for Wales and an additional £2.9 billion to Scotland. There is no justification for ignoring the needs of Wales, Scotland and England. “
And in response to Tory claims that the deal with the DUP is the same as the City Deals the letter states:
“We do not accept your argument that this additional allocation is comparable to the funding of city deals. City deals require match funding, are based on detailed bids and are on a much smaller scale than the £910 million for the first two years rising to £1 billion over five years provided for Northern Ireland. In addition, you have committed to “a comprehensive and ambitions set of city deals for Northern Ireland” on top of the £1 billion for mainstream devolved services. Nor do we accept your argument that this funding is for unique circumstances in Northern Ireland. Health, education, infrastructure and tackling deprivation are core areas of devolved responsibility where Wales and Scotland can both point to a need for additional resources.”
The two Governments will now take their complaint to the Joint Ministerial Committee. The JMC was set up as part of the memorandum of understanding between the devolved and UK Governments.
Finance Secretary for the Scottish Government Derek Mackay said:
““The Scottish Government fundamentally disagrees with the way in which this additional funding for Northern Ireland has been allocated. We have repeatedly made the point that all areas to which the £1billion funding package has been allocated are devolved matters and therefore the Barnett Formula should apply.”
And on behalf of the Welsh Government Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said:
““For all its faults the Barnett formula is supposed to be clear and rules based. It is simply inexcusable that the UK Government is willing to “bypass” those rules. That is why we have begun the formal dispute resolution with the Government so that Wales is treated fairly alongside all nations of the UK.”
Reporter: Fiona Grahame