Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Somehow I remain unconvinced

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked HMG
how many new non-departmental public bodies have been created since the last general election.
We usually refer to them as quangos and their bonfire has been promised for some time. Ever since the last election, as it happens, though it has been somewhat slow in coming. The subject was covered by this blog in various ways here, here, here, here, here and here. A shambolic state of affairs, with little understanding of why quangos exist and what they do.

HMG, of course, thinks otherwise, as this reply to Lord Willoughby demonstrates:
Since May 2010, so far 92 quangos have been directly abolished and another 103 merged together to leave 50. Our overall plans will get rid of a third of public bodies and will save the taxpayer £2.6 billion over the spending review period.
Since May 2010, the Government have established and classified nine new non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) which were not previously in existence in another form. Six of these are independent monitoring boards which must, by law, be set up each time a new prison or probation trust is established. Departments must submit a full business case for any NDPB which clearly demonstrates the need for its independence. Further information on the size and spend of the NDPB sector will be published in the autumn. Overall numbers of NDPBs are substantially down since the general election and continue to fall.
As ever, a good deal of the reply deals with what will happen rather than what has happened and it is not clear that merging quangos with, possibly, some of the work going back to the civil service will save any money. We shall have to wait for that autumn information though it might have been useful if HMG could see its way to providing some interim figures now.

It is also unclear whether the six new quangos or NDPBs announced in the Queen's Speech have been included in the rather vague calculations provided in this response.

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