commission on fiscal imbalance 合集

Moreover a huge amount of media attention has been

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Unformatted text preview: n Whitehall spending departments, and then quickly calculate the formula consequences which bore a predictable relationship to totals. Treasury staffing levels could not have coped with involvement in the particularities of territorial public policy (Thain and Wright, 1995), especially in cases where there was political leverage. Policy leadership, especially that which might be expensive, remained in London in Whitehall departments. Devolution changes this picture. From the Treasury’s viewpoint, policy initiatives in the territories might now generate expensive policy spillovers to England32 if there is pressure for matching policy. Examples of this are now widely discussed. First, the Labour Government’s UK reform of student finance began to unravel when the coalition Scottish Executive adopted a package involving the abolition of up-front student fees. This was substantially less expensive than the proposals of the Cubie Report (1999), which had been commissioned by the Scottish Executive as part of the coalition agreement between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Subsequently, pressure has built up for policy changes in England which, because of relative populations, would be expensive for the Treasury. Second, the Labour Government appointed a Royal Commission on the financing of long-term care for the elderly (Sutherland, 1999). To the Government’s discomfort, the majority report favoured the government paying for personal care as well as nursing care for dependent elderly persons, irrespective of means. Although the proposals were initially rejected by the UK Departments and by the Scottish Executive, one of the first actions of the new First Minister was to announce that the majority report proposals would be implemented in Scotland. This was partly under pressure from the Liberal Democrats, but also to assert his independence from the London Labour leadership, which had become involved in the Scottish leadership election, occasioned by the death in October 2000 of First Minister Donald Dewar. Subsequently, pressure is building up for policy modifications in England. Moreover, the implementation of this policy raises financial issues concerning the way the non-devolved social security system interfaces with devolved expenditure; in this case, the devolved policy will bring savings to the UK programme. A third example relates to teachers’ pay, on which topic the Scottish Executive commissioned the McCrone Report (2000) which recommended considerable restructuring and substantial pay increases. Again, these Scottish developments have affected debates about teachers’ pay in England (though there is some evidence that teachers’ pay in Scotland has lagged behind that in England). These Scottish initiatives have provoked much comment in England, largely to the effect that Scotland must be overfunded if these can be afforded from within the assigned budget. Several questions arise. First, there is the question of the respective merits of the Scottish and English policies, a topic well beyond the scope of this paper. Second, there is the question of how much these initiatives will cost, both in Scotland and th...
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