check_circle Done

Government Government

Maintain the Barnett Formula to share resources across UK nations.

Last updated: 04:26pm 29 November 2019

We will continue to work in partnership with the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive, in a relationship underpinned by pooling and sharing resources through the Barnett Formula.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.31

Our verdict

The Barnett Formula, named after former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Joel Barnett, is a system of  allocating grants for public funds to devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Full Fact neatly summarise the actual formula as:

“any change to UK government department budget, multiplied by the percentage of devolved services in that area, multiplied by the percentage population in that country”

Although the formula was intended as a temporary measure and is non-statutory (not enforceable by law), it has been used in convention by the Treasury since 1978. This policy is a pledge to maintain it.

The June 2017 Conservative-DUP deal called into question the formula, as Northern Ireland received additional funding from the Treasury with no additional funds going to Wales or Scotland. However, the government argued that as spending in England did not change, the extra funding was not subject to the formula. Since then, the Barnett Formula has been maintained as the main means of budget allocation across UK nations.

Despite the debate on unfair additional funding, the government has adhered to the Barnett Formula in its spending reviews. As a result, this policy is ‘done’.

Want more detail?

There's always room for debate

We’re serious about providing clear, up-to-date, non-partisan information. We focus on being consistent and fair in how we reach our verdicts, and always explain our reasoning. But there is always room for debate. So if you see it differently, we’d love you to tell us why. Or even better, submit an edit.