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Treasury criticised by Welsh and Scottish finance committees for lack of engagement on devolved budgets

26 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt – Photo Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Emily Price

The Welsh and Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committees have written a joint letter to HM Treasury criticising a lack of engagement on devolved budgets “despite repeated invitations”.

Peredur Owen Griffiths MS and Kenneth Gibson MSP expressed frustration at the failure of both Committees to secure oral evidence sessions with the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt and other Treasury Ministers.

In a letter to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rt Hon Laura Trott, they said the lack of communication was “deeply disappointing and inhibits effective scrutiny” of the overall funding position in the devolved nations.

The Welsh and Scottish Committee Chairs accused the UK Government of putting pressure on the Senedd and Scottish Parliament to conduct annual budget scrutiny within extremely tight timescales.

Budgets

They said the Treasury’s attitude to devolved financing had been marked by a lack of information regarding funding calculations which affect devolved budgets.

The Welsh and Scottish Finance Committees also said there is the lack of certainty early in the process when the UK Government informs devolved governments of their funding settlement.

The two Committee Chairs closed the letter saying: “The IFCF is keen to reopen dialogue with HM Treasury on these and related matters and remains ready to welcome Ministers to the Senedd and Scottish Parliament to support our Interparliamentary Finance Committee Forum respective scrutiny of budgetary issues. We therefore invite you to update us on how you would wish to engage with the devolved Parliaments.”

On Thursday 21 March, the IFCF met for the third time at Portcullis House in  Westminster.

Concern

Members from the Senedd’s Finance Committee and the Scottish Parliament’s Finance and Public Administration Committee were in attendance alongside officials from the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Finance.

Members discussed how the Treasury interacts with the devolved governments in developing the UK Budget and related timetables.

However, HM Treasury Ministers and officials declined to meet with the IFCF while they were in London.

Peredur Owen Griffiths MS, the Senedd Finance Committee Chair, said: “Scotland and Wales face similar challenges over budget scrutiny and a lack of engagement with HM Treasury on fiscal matters affecting our respective nations.

“Our meeting at Westminster was incredibly important in providing a platform for the forum to press for action on issues of common concern, and our letter to the Treasury demonstrates what can be achieved when working collectively.

“The forum continues to provide a space for constructive dialogue between the devolved legislatures on matters of shared importance and will meet again later this year to progress these issues further.”

The Welsh and Scottish Finance Committees are due to meet again at a IFCF meeting later this year.

They say they are awaiting a response form the Treasury.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “While we value the role of devolved legislature finance committees, the UK Government is accountable to the UK Parliament for its tax and spending decisions.

“The Treasury engages with the devolved administrations in the usual way to keep them updated in the run up to all Estimates and fiscal events which impact upon their budget-setting.”


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Gareth
Gareth
25 days ago

To Westminster, the devolved governments are not elected bodies that are to be treated as such, but an inconvenience , to be ignored at best.

Rhddwen y Sais
Rhddwen y Sais
25 days ago
Reply to  Gareth

England needs independence.

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