Thursday, 14 October 2010 20:57

Government's 'bonfire of quangos'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Will scrapping quangos save money? Will scrapping quangos save money?

ALMOST 200 public bodies are to be axed by the government amid claims that doing so could cost more money than it saves.

Cabinet minister Francis Maude said scrapping 192 bodies and reforming 289 others would radically increase the transparency and accountability of public services.

The 192 bodies to be axed include the Commission for Rural Communities and England's regional development agencies.

The Government is also announcing proposals to merge 118 bodies down to 57, and to substantially reform a further 171.

Organisations such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and the Homes and Communities Agency will be substantially streamlined.

Mr Maude said the move would help to reinvigorate the public’s trust in democracy and also ensure that the government operated in a more efficient and business-like way.

Many functions will either be brought back into government, devolved to local government, moved out of government or abolished altogether.

The official document outlining all the bodies affected can be downloaded here.

Mr Maude said: "In many cases, today’s proposals will ensure we preserve the quality of vital services, while allowing them to become more efficient.”

Where appropriate, the government would give more power to the front-line professionals who knew those services best, he added.

Public bodies that remained would be more open, accountable and efficient, said Mr Maude.

“We recognise that some of these bodies do hugely important and essential work that has to be done at arm’s length from government.”

“But those that remain will not be allowed to go back to the old way of working.

The government would introduce new transparency requirements, a new governance framework and a new review process, Mr Maude said.

But shadow cabinet minister Liam Byrne said the government's plans could end up costing more money than they saved.

Mr Byrne said: “Labour had a plan for steadily saving £0.5 billion by carefully closing 25% of quangos over the next few years.

“The Tories now need to tell us whether their desperation for headlines and faster cuts means the cost of closing quangos is actually bigger than the savings.

And while they’re at it, they should tell us whether their manifesto commitment for 20 new quangos is now on ice."

The government now plans to introduce a Public Bodies Bill enabling its proposals to be implemented where statutory changes are required.

Other legislation, which will be introduced this session, such as the forthcoming Education Bill and Localism Bill, will also enable some specific changes.

All final decisions and implementation will be subject to the comprehensive spending review, necessary legislation and other measures where appropriate.

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