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Title: Regional economics and constitutional change in the UK
Author: Eiser, David
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2061
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2016
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The UK, traditionally one of the more fiscally centralised of OECD countries, is currently in the midst of an extensive programme of tax decentralisation. This is most evident in Scotland. Ten years ago the Scottish Government was almost wholly reliant on a block grant from the UK Government to fund its spending, and debate was focussed on how the determination of this grant should be reformed. Today the Scottish Government has far greater fiscal autonomy. Income tax was almost fully devolved to the Scottish Parliament in April 2017, and around half of VAT revenues will be assigned to Scotland by 2020. As a result, the devolved Scottish budget will in future be linked much more closely to Scotland’s economy, and Scottish politicians will be able to deviate from UK policy on the setting of income tax and various smaller taxes. The objective of this PhD is to examine the economic and political motivations for and implications of greater fiscal decentralisation, with a particular focus on the Scottish case. Its key over-arching questions include: • Which fiscal powers are more and less suitable for decentralisation, and what might constraints might a devolved government face in exercising devolved tax powers? • To what extent are the objectives of fiscal decentralisation compatible with the goal of inter-regional equity in public good provision? • To what extent is fiscal decentralisation likely to enhance the incentives faced by politicians in a devolved parliament to pursue particular types of policy? And to what extent does the answer to this question depend upon the way in which supporting fiscal institutions, notably including the design of block grant arrangements, influence this? • What factors determine regional economic performance, and to what extent can devolved governments be held accountable for (or face the budgetary consequences of) those trends? • To what extent might fiscal decentralisation assuage or accentuate demands for Scottish independence? This PhD consists of four academic papers covering aspects of regional economics and constitutional change in the UK, with a particular focus on Scotland. Each of the four papers is preceded by an abstract. An introductory chapter provides theoretical and policy context within which the four papers are situated. A concluding section to the PhD is provided in Chapter 6. The four papers cover the following topics: • Paper 1 (Chapter 2) was published in the immediate aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, and considers the issues and constraints involved in devolving further fiscal powers to the Scottish Parliament. • Paper 2 (Chapter 3) considers the scope for replacing the Barnett Formula (used to allocate funding to the Scottish Government) with a form of spending-needs assessment, based on a comparative analysis of formulae used within England and Scotland to allocate health funding to territorial health boards. • Paper 3 (Chapter 4) examines how regional labour markets in the UK responded to the 2008/9 recession and its aftermath, and considers which factors may have influenced regional resilience to the recession. • Paper 4 (Chapter 5) examines the factors that determine differential growth in regional income tax revenues, and considers the extent to which it is reasonable to hold devolved governments wholly to account for differential economic performance. • Chapter 6 concludes.
Supervisor: Bell, David N. F. ; Comerford, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: fiscal federalism ; constitutional change ; devolution ; Scotland--Politics and government--21st century ; Home rule--Scotland ; Decentralization in government--Great Britain ; Fiscal policy--Scotland ; Fiscal policy--Great Britain ; Constitutional law--Scotland ; Constitutional law--Great Britain