It is still fashionable in leftward circles to think that the only answer to poverty is more public spending. They wish the UK state to offer more public sector jobs, and to offer more transfer payments to more people so they too become dependents of the government.
The latest ONS figures throw some light on levels of spending and income in the 3 countries of Britain. If we take the three countries of Great Britain (Northern Ireland reinforces the case) we see the following pattern of gross disposable income per head:
Scotland is 5% down on England, and Wales 14% lower.
If we now compare the proportion of public sector workers to the total in each country we find exactly the reverse order:
If we look at public spending per head, England has the lowest at £8529, compared to £9709 for Wales and £10,952 for Scotland. This means England enjoys 16% less public spending than Scotland per head.
It is impossible to look at these figures and continue to argue that more public spending per head produces more prosperity, or to argue that a higher proportion of public sector jobs produces a better result. What matters most is the success and vibrancy of the private sector economy, and its capacity to generate enough well paid jobs. All three parts of the UK need sufficient public spending per head to enjoy good health, education and other important public services. They also each need a successful enterprise economy to generate most of the jobs and create those better paid jobs that so many families need and want.