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Minister's claim rail funding formula is being bypassed is Mostly True

(TheFerret) #1

Ferret Fact Service looks at the transport minister’s claim that Scotland’s railways have been left short by the UK government ignoring the funding formula.

For more see: https://theferret.scot/humza-yousaf-rail-funding-formula-ignored/

(chrisbartter) #2

Hmmm. An interesting rating - again one that backs (or partly backs) the Scottish Government on a transport claim. And it is quite possible that - given the nature of the Westminster Government - the amount allocated to Network Rail in Scotland (and across the UK), is less now under the new structures than under the old ORR 11.17% figure. However, it is what we are NOT told that raises questions about Mr Yousaf’s statement.
He claims that the UK govt ‘has departed from our agreed funding formula’. And we can agree that this is partly true (whether the agreement lasted from 2005 to 2017 is, however, disputed).
It was true before the UK Government published its Memorandum of Understanding which outlined the fact that changes would be made in the funding process when Network Rail was to be reclassified as a public sector body. I don’t recall objection being raised then.
Of course, at that time a decision may have been taken to wait and see what the new arrangements meant, particularly as there was also a promise in that document to discuss the new set up with the Scottish Government.
It may be that this discussion has never taken place - but that is a slightly different ‘fact’ to one of ignoring the funding formula.
Another point made in the FFS article is that the increase desired by the Scottish Government is at least partly, down to increased use of the railways in Scotland. But the aforementioned Memorandum also points out that increased use of the railways has occurred across the UK. We are not told, either by Mr Yousaf, The D of Transport, Transport Scotland or the FFS journalists whether the increase in use in Scotland is more or less than that across the UK. If the answer is considerably less, might that not be part of a reason for a different formula?
This might be seen as hair-splitting, but when you set yourself up to provide an independent fact-checking service, then it is incumbent to take all the factors into consideration, before pronouncing a questionable claim, ‘Mostly true’.