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    21 February, 2005

    Tory Council Tax plans for England only?

    According to BBC Wales's Parliamentary Correspondent David Cornock Conservative Party plans for half-price Council Tax for pensioners do not apply in Wales. Cornock says:

    Any pensioner reading the Sunday Telegraph scanning Michael Howard's advert yesterday might assume that they'd receive a 50% rebate if the Tories win the general election.

    Not so, if they live west of Offa's Dyke or north of Hadrian's Wall. Local government finance is devolved to the Welsh Assembly. The assembly is given a share of increases in local government spending in England to spend as it sees fit.

    So will the assembly be given some of the extra money earmarked for cutting English bills?

    Yes, if you believe Conservative Central Office on Sunday. No, if you believe senior party figures on Monday.

    Nowhere on their website do the Tories make clear the policy applies in England alone. The latest party line is that the council tax rebates will be paid for by cutting the cost of administration in Whitehall.

    That means Wales will not receive a penny more.


    The BBC's words, not mine.

    6 comments:

    Peter Black said...

    The most naive comment is by Bill Wiggin. He is quoted as saying that "the rebates could be on offer in Wales - if the nation votes to abolish the Assembly and revert to Whitehall rule". What he does not seem to know is that the Barnett formula applied to the old Welsh Office as well and thus the same financial arrangement will apply regardless of whether the Assembly exists or not. Of course if the Tories are offering to reform Barnett.....

    Toque said...

    About time that England was considered as a single entity rather than the rump of the UK.

    Potentially a shame for Scottish and Welsh pensioners (if the Tories stood a hope) but extremely good news from a constitutional perspective.

    Leighton Andrews said...

    Not sure I've ever seen England as 'the rump of the UK'. Have a look at my chapter on England in the book The Blair Agenda .

    Anonymous said...

    No, its not fair, but neither is it fair that Wales benefits from devolution and the English have been left out altogether, with Welsh MPs voting on matters that involve only England.
    Whilst many English would express a view that Wales was short also changed and should also have its' own Parliament, I doubt the opposite view exists.
    The only true winners in the cock up that is called devolution, is Scotland, with its's spendthrift parliament and MPs who still enjoy travelling to Westminster to vote on matters relating to only England and some to Wales.
    The longer that Westminster tries to ignore the issue, the more restless the people of England and Wales will become. Usually this means the Welsh blaming and picking fault with the English, without letting truth spoil a good story. The English, however, lay the blame with this Scottish dominated Government and the Welsh MPs who enjoy the best of both worlds, where the blame belongs.
    Pity that you are not complaining about the benefits enjoyed the Welsh and Scottish, which the English are not allowed, such as free residential care for their elderly, free travel across their countries for their elderly and disabled, free prescriptions, free milk for school kids, etc.
    Scrap the Banett formula and make it a real level playing field for all countries. Raise our own taxes and support ourselves. Give England its' own Parliament and upgrade the Welsh Assembly.
    What can be fairer than that?

    Leighton Andrews said...

    There is an argument certainly that Scotland benefits disproportionately from the Barnett Formula. I clearly believe in a stronger devolution settlement for Wales.

    As for England, I suspect the debate has only just started in recent years. One problem of course is that the public debate on Englishness has tended too often to get hi-jacked by groups who are anti-European, anti-immigrant, or racist. All 'nationalisms' suffer that danger.

    There is a legitimate debate to be had about Englishness and England, and as I say I have written about it before .

    Anonymous said...

    The EU recquires England to be regionalized and no national parliament. It would follow then that the English have nothing to gain from being full members of the EU. Every time I hear the"nations and regions of britain"
    I want to put a brick through the telly

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