Designing and Funding the Devolved Nations' Policy Response to COVID-19

Eiser, David and Bell, David and Phillips, David (2021) Designing and Funding the Devolved Nations' Policy Response to COVID-19. [Report]

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Abstract

The UK's three devolved governments, in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are responsible for designing and implementing large parts of the public health response to the COVID-19 crisis in their respective territories. This includes the nature and extent of social restrictions, contact tracing programmes, and vaccination rollout (although the vaccines were procured by the UK government). The devolved governments are also responsible for designing and implementing large parts of the economic response, including support to businesses and other organisations through grants. However, the furlough scheme, similar income support schemes for the self-employed, and changes to the rates of Universal Credit, are policies of the UK government that apply UK-wide. To fund most of their expenditure – including virtually all their COVID-19 expenditure – the three devolved governments rely on block grants from Westminster – although recent years have seen an increased share of the Scottish and Welsh governments' budgets come from newly devolved taxes.