Column: Glamorgan Gazette – Fairer Funding for Wales

Sioned Williams MS calls for fairer funding for Wales from Westminster.

This article was originally published in the Glamorgan Gazette on Monday 8 April 2024.

Whatever your views on the UK, while we remain a part of it, Wales should be funded fairly by Westminster. However, the way this happens currently does not meet the needs of Wales - and this has been acknowledged by the UK Government itself.  

Just before Easter, Plaid Cymru took a debate to the Senedd calling for a change to the Barnett Formula – the formula used by the UK Government to calculate the funding that’s due to the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s this pot of money that decides how much is available to be distributed to our local councils, health service and spent on things like public transport, roads and building the economy. 

It was never designed with the needs of Wales in mind. Instead, the formula is based on the size of the population rather than the needs of the population. To understand the limitations of this arrangement is to understand what our needs are. It’s well established that the population of Wales is older, sicker and has greater areas of deprivation when compared to England. Our needs are very different to England, our health service bears a heavier burden, and to top it off, the calculation being used to decide our funding is actually designed for another nation - Scotland.  

The unfairness of the Barnett formula is a reflection of the social unfairness that is clear to see in Wales, and, of course, the unfairness built into the calculation also contributes to the inequality in our society: The high reliance on foodbanks, the households in fuel poverty who cannot afford to cook a hot meal, or the one in three of our children who live in poverty.  

Keeping things as they are will hinder attempts in Wales to ensure fairness for our people. Other political parties express moral outrage at the inequality, lack of services and levels of poverty here in Wales, but without matching this with the political courage to act to change our funding formula, this is simply dishonest and empty rhetoric. As we approach another UK General Election, where we’ll elect the people who will have direct influence on how Wales is funded, we must insist that our representatives are prepared to stand up for Wales and our needs. Plaid Cymru believes that this must include calling for a fairer deal for Wales from the UK. 

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