Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Exploring The North South Divide

11:41am UK, Wednesday February 27, 2008

Gerard Tubb, North of England correspondent

The border towns of Alnwick and Kelso are very similar. They are almost the same size and share roughly the same employment levels and average household income.

But differences in public spending in Scotland and England mean a family could be thousands of pounds out of pocket just because the live the wrong side of the River Tweed.

Due to a historical quirk that was supposed to have been ironed out years ago, Edinburgh's devolved parliament gets £1,500 more from the public purse per head of population.

The main impact of the extra cash is felt in university education and care for the elderly, so we compared the cost to two similar families, one in each town.

Fiona Stanley spends much of the week in Alnwick without partner Andrew - he's working in London to fund university tuition fees for their three children, which would top £27,000 even at today's levels.

All elderly care is means tested in England, so six months part-time care at home for a relative with savings could add another £3,000.

In Kelso, the Berrett family would pay just £7,000 for their three children's university education at today's levels and elderly care at home is free for everyone, so they would 'save' £23,000 just by living in Scotland.

The so-called Barnett formula is blamed for the inequality in public spending, and even its creator has called for it to be reformed.

But political commentators say it would be a brave Westminster government that cut spending in Scotland in case it provided ammunition for those calling for independence.

:: Sky correspondents Gerard Tubb and James Matthews will be reporting live on the issue from Alnwick and Edinburgh this Saturday.

Source: SKY NEWS

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