Tell me something I didn’t know

3 12 2009

Quangos, never has there ever been a need for these monstrosities until NuGov saw their potential in circumnavigating the political process.  Set-up an important sounding organisation, add words like “Royal”, “Scientific” and “Academy” to it, have them warn NuGov of impending doom and NuGov then has another reason to raid our collective piggy bank.

So of course NuGov provides 90%+ of these Quangos’ finance, NuGov needs them more than the opposition or the electorate.  That I was sure about.  What I didn’t know was that there are over a thousand of the buggers.

New research reveals 90 per cent of government work is completed by Britain’s 1,152 quangos

Daily Mail, 2nd December 2009

Up to 90 per cent of the work of government is now conducted by Britain’s quango state.

Startling new research suggests that once-great Whitehall departments have been reduced to little more than policy-making ‘hubs’ which distribute taxpayers’ money to unaccountable arms-length public bodies.

Ministers are accused of creating a plethora of new bodies so they are ‘seen to be acting’ in the event of a crisis.

So many quangos – quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations – have proliferated that there is no clear picture of how many there are or how much they cost.

The Government says there are around 800. But a comprehensive survey by the Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign group has identified 1,152.

The frightening evidence of their growing power has come from Professor Matthew Flinders, an expert on government at Sheffield University.

He said their proliferation meant the British state was increasingly ‘walking without order’ – meaning there is widespread political confusion about the number and status of public bodies.

‘The delegation of power to quangos is not a bad thing as such but not when they are allowed to grow willy nilly, some of them spawning new bodies of their own’ he said.

‘The issue is how to control these tentacles of the state – the monster has so many legs you don’t know if it’s walking forwards or backwards.

‘Some departments like the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are just hubs; a small policy-making core that distributes money to arms-length bodies.

‘The financial crisis is really putting pressure on public services because they know they are going to have to deliver more for less. This will lead to a focus on efficiency.

‘For many years the structure of public bodies has become confused, with a lot of bodies with overlapping functions. No one really knows how many bodies there are.

‘This financial pressure has forced both Labour and the Conservatives to say there could be significant cost savings that can be made by a drastic reduction in the number of arms-length bodies that we have.

‘We haven’t had a review since 1979.’

Professor Flinders said new quangos were often set up by ministers to create an impression of action in the event of a crisis.

The cockle pickers disaster, for instance, led to a new public body – the Gangmasters Licensing Authority – while the death of schoolchildren on a school trip mean a new organisation was set up to regulate adventure sports.

While some were doing important work, it could just as effectively be carried out by the relevant government department, he said.

The Tories have cited the elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission, which does work that used to be carried out by the Home Office.

India’s Election Commission oversees state elections of areas the size of European countries every year, and a General Election of over one billion people every five years.

Its budget is £2.5 million, one tenth that of Britain’s Electoral Commission, and it oversees elections involving 16 times as many voters.

The Government department with the most quangos is the Department of Health, with 72.

However, the department to lavish most money on quangos last year was the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, which directed over £21 billion to its 23 bodies, £11 billion of which went to the Learning and Skills council, and £7 billion to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Critics say a number of bodies – including British Waterways, the Carbon Trust and School Food Trust – should be subject to immediate spending cuts as Britain struggles to rein in an unprecedented £175bn budget deficit.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: ‘Too many state actions, services and decisions are carried out by unaccountable organisations who don’t have to answer the public. This has a corrosive effect on public trust.

‘We are committed to reduce the number of quangos. If something needs to be done by the state it should be done by a body which is democratically accountable unless one of David Cameron’s three tests applies – it performs a highly technical function, is required to be transparent or impartial.’

Anyone still wondering why we’re so screwed?  It isn’t the benefit cheats we need to tackle, it is the bloated ‘Club’ called Politics.  Our entire establishment needs to go on a Country-catering-version of fat-fighters or pay-off-your-mortgage-in-a-year type shows.  Preferably both.  Either that or the poxy jungles in Australia.  I know a group of gators who would love to have dinner with them*.

* I know it’s an old pun but it’s late and I’m shattered.

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