Yesterday the Prime Minister repeated in Parliament the canard – echoed by Welsh Tories-  that the Welsh Government has cut the funding of the Welsh NHS.

Since 1979 both the Welsh office and Welsh Government are funded through the Barnett formula. Since 1979, every year this adds to the 1979 cash baseline about 5% of each sum the Treasury settlement (up or down) allocates for each of the English departmental spends where Wales has devolved responsibility. Barnett is a crude, arbitrary approach. It does not reflect “need”. The original baseline was never validated and it is difficult to police the Treasury’s  allocation of money.

It is accepted by independent bodies that the formula funds NHS Wales at a level  10% below that of comparable English regions. Since 1999 the Assembly has tried to close this gap by taking money from other Welsh services – notably local government. Continuing this approach was never possible beyond a few years. Austerity adds to the problem.

Either Eton and Oxford educated  Mr. Cameron is  ignorant of the way that Wales is funded, or he dissembles cynically for cheap party political reasons. Given that his education didn’t equip him to tell an American television audience what Magna Carta meant, no doubt the reason for his charge is the former.

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