Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Devolution has meant growing policy differences between Scotland, Wales and England


Significantly different approaches to key public policy issues have emerged in Scotland and Wales since devolution, as the new administrations in Edinburgh and Cardiff have rejected consumer choice and diversity in favour of professionalism and uniformity.

This is one of the key findings in a new study by researchers from the University of Aberdeen and Cardiff University. Their research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of its Devolution and Constitutional Change Programme.

Michael Keating, Professor of Scottish Politics at the University of Aberdeen, explains: “The Labour Party may be the dominant political force in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. But Scotland and Wales have stuck more to the traditional social democratic model of public service delivery.

“This has led them to stress non-selectivity, professionalism and uniformity, while rejecting foundation hospitals, star-rated hospitals, school league tables, beacon councils, elite universities and selective schools. Scotland also scrapped up-front university tuition fees and rejected top-up fees. At the same time, free care for the elderly has been introduced north of the border.”

The researchers identified several factors which may explain this difference. “There’s a different policy style in Scotland and Wales, where there is a much greater emphasis on the public sector professional,” says co-researcher John Loughlin, Professor of European Studies at Cardiff University.

“And those professionals tend to be more supportive than their English counterparts of universal services. There are also different political pressures. Polling evidence suggests that Scottish voters are somewhat more supportive of redistribution than English voters. More importantly, Labour in Scotland and Wales faces more competition from the left, through nationalist parties and the Scottish Socialists. In England, the government needs to appeal to the middle classes who otherwise might opt out of the welfare state.”

A quarter of the population in the South East of England has private medical insurance, compared to just ten per cent of Scots. And eleven per cent of SE pupils go to private schools, compared with just three per cent of Scottish pupils.

The researchers looked in detail at higher education and rural policies. “In higher education, the differences extended beyond fees, particularly in Scotland,” says Prof Keating. “Scottish policy makers tend to work collaboratively with the universities. They never had the sort of ‘naming and shaming’ which the Quality Assurance Agency inspections brought in England, focusing on co-operative approaches to improving performance instead.”

Prof Loughlin adds: “And while the English approach has emphasised management, regulation and differentiation, the Scottish approach has stressed professional autonomy, consensus, egalitarianism and policy learning. Though Wales is more constrained than Scotland, it too has sought to develop a more egalitarian approach to higher education.”

Two aspects of rural policy were particularly important: reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and the response to the 2001 foot and mouth crisis.

“The presence of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition led the Scottish government to take a more pro-farmer position than England,” adds Prof Keating. “Pressure from hill farmers meant they were cool about the idea being suggested that a proportion of farmers’ payments be set aside for a rural development fund. With extra Treasury funding, it was able to develop a different approach to the new system and negotiate variations in European Union policy for Scotland.”

Prof Loughlin adds: “Welsh ministers felt constrained both by the limits of devolution and EU law from setting up their own emergency services, which they believe could have eradicated foot and mouth disease more quickly, and from treating Welsh cattle differently. However, devolution proved particularly effective in Northern Ireland, where the agriculture minister quickly closed the ports and secured cross-community co-operation to eradicate the disease more speedily than the rest of the UK.”

Becky Gammon | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>