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Irrational and unpredictable? Why we should replace the Barnett formula

An instrument seeking to ensure fair distribution of public spending across the UK has done no such thing

By Akash Paun  

agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

The relationship between different parts of the UK is a matter of increasingly pressing concern, with Scottish independence a distinct possibility and Northern Ireland adapting to a new reality post-Brexit.

One vital element in understanding the UK’s territorial politics is the Barnett formula, the well-known—though often misunderstood—mechanism used by the Treasury to calculate changes in the annual funding provided by Westminster to the governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As recent Institute for Government analysis shows, the formula produces some odd effects and distributes resources across the UK in a way that is hard to explain or…

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