Quangos begin to burn

So, the much-vaunted ‘bonfire of the quangos’ is finally upon us. Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, today announced the abolition of 192 quangos, the merger of 118, and the as-yet undefined “reform” of a further 171. That leaves 380 which will remain in their present form.

In answer to the allegation from Trades Unions that a lot of these plans would damage services and cost jobs, Maude said he did not know how many jobs would go, or how much money would be saved by the exercise. Maude, in fact, attempted to make the argument that these changes were about increasing accountability more than saving money, which is odd when the main governmental departments are being told they have to put up with huge cuts. Doesn’t quite stand up as sound reasoning.

Another odd thing about this ‘bonfire’ is that not all quangos are going to be cut, merged, or reformed to the same schedule. Some will be immediate and others, like the Office of Fair Trading, will have consultation periods.

In the same week as Philip Green published his report saying the government was inefficient and had poor financial management, Maude is bringing in this cull of quangos which will actually have a high cost due to the expense of closing organisations down. Doesn’t seem like the best of timing.

As well as the actual cost of shutting organisations, there is the problem of losing a lot of experts in their fields who have done jobs which will now pass back to the relevant government departments and their ministers. This is something else they don’t seem to have thought through.

Until now, when an MP wanted to know some particular statistic/information, they would query the relevant quango. Now, they will in fact be posing direct questions of the relevant Whitehall department’s minister. Which is going to mean a LOT more work for the current cabinet. Imagine the reams of questions someone like Tom Watson will ask of Eric Pickles, Michael Gove, Danny Alexander, et al!

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7 comments

  1. And what about adding some more illustrations? I’m not trying to offend anyone, site is really nice. Just as I know humans acquire info much more effective if there are certain helpful illustrations.

    Steaven Mainfield

  2. It was very interesting for me to read the article. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon. BTW, rather good design your site has, but what do you think about changing it every few months?

    Whitny Kripke

  3. The cost saving is at the board level.
    Why have 5 or so regional health boards? Each with a chairman on £70,000 and an executive on £50,000 and a treasurer and a PR section..etc.
    Scrapping or merging kills off the highest and most costly layer.

    The hearing aid board? Why doesn’t the NHS do the job ? Or the hearing dogs charity?
    {which is what will occur. A single extra salary of say £40k for a chief, then a small subsidy to the charity to carry out the work that’s in their interest.} A whole load of PR’s , web designers, accounts managers etc not required.

    Of course it will save money.

    {Naturally the ‘LED florescence monitoring station’, of which I am chairman ,does incredibly important work in the study of the brightness of the standby lights on electrical equipment, and should have its funding increased.}

  4. “Maude is bringing in this cull of quangos which will actually have a high cost due to the expense of closing organisations down. Doesn’t seem like the best of timing.”

    I ask, when is it a bad time to close something down that is a net loss; closing it down is a fixed cost, but running costs are an infinite more-than-inflation-linked annuity. If I were newly put in charge of a heavily loss-making company, with liabilities approaching 100% of capitalisation, my shareholders would expect me to get rid of loss-making sections that were nothing but further drag to the profit-making sections. David Cameron is that man, the company’s called the UK.

    Also, politically, it’s the best time. When quite a few bleeding stumps are being paraded, no-one will notice a few more, and doing it all at once means that it can’t be dragged out. As that civil servant noted on 9/11, now’s the time to bring out bad news.

    • The purpose of most QUANGOs isn’t to make a profit. It’s to provide a service to the State. I’ve no doubt that some of the organisations do need an overhaul but slashing all of these is an ideological move and nothing to do with the economy. It’s a pander to the right-wing which will have very little effect.

      Your argument that this is a cost-cutting measure would make sense if the government themselves weren’t saying that it was NOT to do with savings but to do with accountability.

      Using economic necessities to hide the ‘bad news’ of ideological cuts is wrong, and using the 9/11 analogy doesn’t help you.

      On the other hand, thanks for reading my blog and for leaving a comment Richard.

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