Cameron must explain why Scots have to pay for London’s sewer upgrade


By a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has asked the Prime Minister to explain why Scotland was cheated out of £400m Barnett Consequentials from the £4.1bn upgrade to the London sewerage network – saying this could fund vital infrastructure projects already snubbed by David Cameron.

Ms McAlpine has written to the PM following revelations the new sewerage system in London, as well as a £50 cut in water bills in the South West of England, will not be funded in the normal DEFRA way, which would have been entitled Scotland to some £400m in so called consequential payments due to the Barnett Formula.

The funding of London’s privatised water and sewarage system out of the UK government’s reserve funds means that there is no Barnett consequential.  By-passing the usual funding process in this way means there will be no refund to Scotland for approximately £400m in Scottish taxpayers’ cash which will now be spent on improving the sewage treatment system in London and funding a cut in water bills for people in the South West of England.

The UK government reserve fund is supposed to be used only in exceptional circumstances to fund projects of UK national importance.  Many outside of London will struggle to see how improvements to London’s sewage network should be deemed a national project to which their tax payments should contribute.  The sum involved is substantial.  The amount Scots are contributing to London’s sewage bill would pay the great bulk of the costs of the new Forth bridge.   

The SNP has accused the Prime Minister of cheating Scots out of vital funding which could have been spent upon much needed infrastructure projects in Scotland.  There are 36 shovel ready projects in Scotland for which the Scottish government recently requested UK funding, but Holyrood’s appeal for the necessary £300m funding was rebuffed by Westminster.

South Scotland SNP MSP Ms McAlpine said:

“David Cameron must come clean on why Scotland has been cheated out of £400m in Barnett Consequentials.

“It stinks that this Tory Prime Minister is finding ways to deny Scotland its fair share of funding – especially following Ruth Davidson’s recent comments conveying her explicit dislike for the Barnett Formula.

“While the UK Government has raided the UK national reserves to the tune of £4.1bn to upgrade the sewerage works and offer cheaper water bills to the South West of England, Scotland and the other devolved nations are being snubbed of our entitled Barnett Consequentials from this money.

“It is clear this Prime Minister and the rest of his Tory and Lib Dem cronies are not making decisions with the best interests of the people of Scotland.

“Why else would he deny the Scottish Government’s request for £300m funding for 36 shovel ready projects that would have supported jobs and the economy across the country?

“Scotland is already denied its fair share, as highlighted in the GERS figure that show we have 8.4 per cent of the UK population but contribute 9.6% of the UK tax.

“Mr Cameron’s government must get its hands off the Barnett Consequentials that are rightfully Scotland’s.”