Labour slapped down Andy Burnham today after he called for the north of England to receive a Scottish-style funding package.
The mayor of Greater Manchester said the north should be funded along the lines of the so-called “Barnett Formula”, which calculates the amount of public spending which is allocated to the devolved nations.
“We want to have a single grant settlement as part of our ask for devolution, like Scotland and Wales,” he told a conference on the north.
Burnham said he wanted to see “a single grant settlement for each of these combined authorities, on top of which you would apply an equivalent of the Barnett formula for the north of England”.
The Labour mayor said it would give them the architecture to support “German-style levelling up in the north”.
However, a Labour spokesperson rejected Burnham’s idea.
They told HuffPost UK: “Germany has a very different economic and political system to the UK, and so we need to be careful about comparing incompatible systems, or simply pasting one country’s process onto ours, top-down.
“We want to do things differently, bottom-up and in genuine partnership with local and regional government.”
A spokesman for Labour leader Keir Starmer also dismissed Burnham’s suggestion.
He said: “What we want to ensure is we are looking at public spending based on the needs there are in an area, not just based on an arbitrary formula that requires you to spend in London so that somehow there can then be money that goes to another part of the country.”
The Barnett Formula is often criticised for looking just at the population size of an area rather than need, leading to varying levels of spending in different parts of the country.
It has also emerged that in 2015, when Burnham was running to be Labour leader, he suggested the Barnett Formula left Wales “short-changed”.
He told the BBC: “I think it gives a rough deal to Wales if I’m honest. I was chief secretary to the Treasury and I remember looking in detail at the Barnett Formula and I do think Wales gets short-changed by it.”
A Labour source in the north hit back at the party leadership, however, telling HuffPost UK: “Today the north came together and spoke with one voice.
“It’s disappointing that the Labour Party doesn’t seem to understand the strength of feeling.
“Mayors and leaders across the north are supportive of the single funding pot proposal and a Barnett-style formula to close the gap with the south.
“If Labour is serious about winning Red Wall seats they need to listen to the northern mayors and leaders and not undermine them.”
Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary, also spoke during the event but did not mirror Burnham’s calls for a Barnett-style formula.
She said national government spending will be lined up behind local growth plans, not “ad hoc pots” of funding.
“I am hopeful there is an emerging political consensus that longer term funding settlements with more flex are the future,” she added.