Project / Series

Designing and funding the devolved nations’ policy response to COVID-19

This project will examine how effective the funding frameworks of the UK’s devolved governments have been in enabling the devolved governments to plan and deliver the response to COVID-19 in their respective territories and make recommendations to improve the operation of those funding frameworks.


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 pandemic in their respective territories, and significant elements of the economic response.

But the devolved governments have raised concerns that the funding frameworks in which they operate are constraining their ability to respond effectively.

The devolved governments’ funding frameworks have been tested by the COVID-19 pandemic in a way which was never envisaged. But if the funding frameworks are to be effective, they need to be robust to shocks. There is thus both a key opportunity and a vital need to assess performance, identify any pressure points, and develop beneficial reforms.

This project aims to examine these issues by examining the following two objectives:

First, to examine whether the existing fiscal frameworks are sufficiently robust to enable the UKDGs to effectively plan and deliver their responses to the COVID-19 crisis and support recovery.

Second, to appraise options for redesign of those fiscal frameworks to make them more appropriate and effective.

The outcomes of the work will inform a planned review of Scotland’s Fiscal Framework to take place in 2022, and a newly established Fiscal Commission in Northern Ireland which will examine the scope for further fiscal devolution to Northern Ireland. The project will also inform ongoing public debate around fiscal devolution and the fiscal responsibilities of the devolved governments, in the context of the upcoming elections to the devolved legislatures.

The outcomes of the project will help ensure that the UKDGs have the appropriate fiscal resources and tools to respond to the ongoing effects of the crisis and support recovery in 2021 and beyond, and ensure learning from the COVID crisis, making fiscal frameworks more robust in future.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19, grant reference ES/W00173X/1.

The project is a collaboration between the Fraser of Allander Institute (David Eiser), the Institute for Fiscal Studies (David Phillips), and the University of Stirling (David Bell).


Fraser of Allander Institute              


David is Senior Knowledge Exchange Fellow at the Fraser of Allander Institute



David Bell

David Bell is Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling and a Fellow of the Centre on Constitutional Change.

David Phillips

David Phillips is Associate Director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.