October 14, 2010

192 quangos are to be abolished. It could be argued that it doesn’t quite match expectations of a big bonfire  but considering that there are  some 900  ‘Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisations’ it seems a reasonable start.  Official statements stress that the list is not complete and the review is a work in progress.

 The list of organisations to be scrapped includes high profile bodies like the Audit Commission and the Standards Board of England.  But  there are victims with long titles such as the ‘Independent Review Panel for the Classification of Borderline Products or the ‘National Standing Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources’, that most members of the public wouldn’t know existed.

Some of these quangos  sound simply ludicrous, but I assume that a lot of those didn’t actually do much and their abolition won’t save much money either.

The problem with a lot of quangos  is that they either duplicate what a central or local government department delivers more or less anyway or they take on what a government department should do but the quango does it away from public accountability.

The other question is whether quangos take on functions that should be delivered by the private sector or could be delivered by the third sector.

Cycling England is an example at the more benign end.  This body with a tiny budget never delivered a thing  being completely overshadowed by big charities like Sustrans and BCTV  (the National Cycling Charity).  Cycling England’s departure will make very little difference. We will neither notice they have gone nor will government save a lot of money.

But what about some of the bigger players like Regional Development Agencies which are all about to be abolished. Their function was to bring economic prosperity and jobs particularly to the more deprived areas of the country. They tried  to create opportunites for businesses, develop regional and sub- regional economic strategies,  find consensus and bring in funding for big infrastructure projects etc.  Can regions like the North West do without them? Do we need a regional body which looks at the bigger picture rather than each council area or a conurbation like Greater Manchester fighting their own corner? I understand that it is proposed to create Local Entreprise Boards.  Will we just end up with new quangos under a different title?

I welcome that the new government is tidying up the complicated and  expensive mess of quangos. But I wished it was made clearer to the public for what reasons we keep certain organisations but not others? What are the clear objectives for bodies we still retain. What new organisations will be created to take on functions that cannot be mopped up by central and local government, the private or the third sector? Will the remaning quangos become more accountable?  And what money will government save at the end of it?



  1. […] some 900 ‘Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisations’ it seems a reasonable start. Read more October 15th, 2010 | Category: […]

  2. […] some 900 ‘Quasi Autonomous Non Governmental Organisations’ it seems a reasonable start. Read more Share and […]

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