"Brown spends 22% more on the Scots than on the English" will crown a story in tomorrow's Business newspaper. The Business' Allister Heath has gained access to an analysis from Williams de Broë of 2004-2005 public expenditure data. The analysis reveals that the taxpayer spends £6,623 per person in England but £886 more on every person in Wales... £1,473 more on every person in Scotland... and £2,275 more on every person in Northern Ireland.
This imbalance will only underline the reluctance of voters to accept a Scottish Prime Minister. Only last week an ICM survey for BBC1's Politics Show found that 52% thought it “wrong” that a Scottish MP should become Prime Minister in the post-devolution-to-Edinburgh UK. The number thinking it wrong rises to 59% in the South East of England. This may reflect the fact that public spending on the average person in the South East is only £5,837. The English number of £6,623 hides wide regional variations. Londoners receive £7,873 per person. The North East gets £7,531 and the North West £7,217. Allister Heath's conclusion is spot on:
"The figures will fuel fears that Brown’s public sector spending binge is failing to achieve better health-care, education or life expectancy as there is no positive relationship between regional levels of public spending and outcomes. They will also confirm that most of Britain is now even more dependent on government spending than social-democratic countries such as France but that the southern tip of England is less dependent on state handouts than almost all other rich economies."