17 December 2012

One of the themes of the blog is that it isn’t just Cornwall. I am not talking about an understandable, legitimate, and practical focus on one’s locality; we all wish for the very best for where we live. However, the funding ills of Cornwall, which nationalism says are down to unfairness from the UK central government, affect many counties and cities in England. Cornwall isn’t singled out. I explored this in the post The dismal party where I deplored the grievance agenda of Cornwall hard done by, Cornwall singled out for disfavour, the Victim Cornwall burden of a narrow nationalism.

A stark example is the funding of the NHS. To recap briefly, a funding formula, along with the market forces factor, decides what each area should receive to deliver a service which, allowing for the different circumstance of the areas, is equal across England. This is the target allocation of funds. For historic reasons some areas get more and some less than target; the unjustified funding differences cannot responsibly be put right overnight and somewhat slowly they are ending. Cornwall is one of those that gets less; it is funded under target. The Advisory Council on Resource Allocation has developed a new allocations formula which should be published later this month (Hansard 11 December column 52WH) though that might throw up new problems (see the 2012 posts linked at the foot).

Rightly, this underfunding of the NHS Cornwall is remarked; but too often it is in a way that might be read as suggesting that Cornwall is unique in this. I put in the Earlier posts section posts in which I have discussed NHS funding in England, pointing out that we are not singled out and that underfunding happens to other places in England too.

The other day in a useful debate on the health service in Cornwall that he initiated Andrew George, the Libdem MP for St Ives, reasonably pointed to the underfunding of Cornwall over several years. However, he said: “This year sixty one primary care trusts will receive a total of £1.3 billion over target while eighty eight PCTs, one of which is Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, will receive £1.3 billion below target” (Hansard 11 December 2012 column 50WH).

Quite. It isn’t just Cornwall and the argument for more funding for Cornwall has to be made in the context of all the eighty eight and the responsible righting of the unjustified funding gaps between all the NHS areas. The case is for every area to receive its target funding, Cornwall, yes, most certainly, and all the rest. Andrew George has got it right.

Earlier posts
What’s fair funding for the NHS in Cornwall? 20 June 2007
“Is this Victim Cornwall syndrome again? Education, water and sewerage, housing, health: do we really believe that someone is sitting in London gleefully doing down the people of Cornwall, deliberately singling Cornwall out for unfair funding?”

The dismal party 12 February 2008
“This goes beyond the usual stuff from any group anywhere demanding their area gets the very best from central government and complaining if another does better. They appear shackled to a grievance agenda. I realise that party politics is about keeping things simple and partisan but it is dismaying that there are few attempts in Cornwall to explain the conflicting claims faced by any government trying to achieve fairness in the redistribution of national funds to very different parts of the country and to explain the full background to hard government funding…We should engage people in a debate about what is fair funding across Britain rather than presenting national decisions simplistically as only sources for local grievance, the usual nonsense of Cornwall hard done by, Cornwall singled out for disfavour.”

Higher NHS funding for Cornwall 15 December 2008

Funding health in Cornwall 8 June 2010

Health funding: Cornwall would gain from new inequalities 18 May 2012

Health funding: new inequalities and Cornwall 27 April 2012