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Bye bye quangos!

74 replies

longfingernails · 14/10/2010 08:55

Another excellent day for the coalition.

Hundreds of quangos scrapped, downsized, privatised or merged. I'm sure we'll hear the squealing of the vested interests on the news channels all day!

The great thing is that every time a fat cat Communications Officer or Diversity Co-ordinator for the National Paperclip Bendiness Regulation Service squawks, the sense of revulsion amongst the public for Labour's wasteful and destructive expansion of the nanny state will increase.

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Jcee · 14/10/2010 09:22

And a horrible day for those facing unemployment and an uncertain future...

Whilst I think there is a need for the useless quangos to go and a need to rein in unnecessary spending in others, there are some quangos delivering services on behalf of the government with the expertise that many local authorities and government departments should have but have gradually lost over the years...when the quangos go who will do this work? There doesn't seem to be a plan b in place or one being developed in some cases...

I will admit I have a vested interest as I work for a quango, which is unlikely to be scrapped today but probably downsized to a strategic policy advisory body rather than a delivery agency. We are overinflated - we have got flabby and for some reason have developed a massive and IMO unnecessary marketing dept to do twitter and facebook updates which is bigger than our national delivery team i.e. the people actually doing the work we are paid to deliver!

However, we deliver a massive national programme, have hit our targets year on year across England with the expertise and knowledge our sponsoring Govt dept and local authorities do not have and are not currently in a position to do without massive restructures and changes in the way they work. Will be interesting to see what happens post March 2011...

longfingernails · 14/10/2010 09:37

Jcee Well, some quangos are obviously necessary - though no quango whatsoever needs Communications Officers, and certainly not more than one.

I think the coalition's three tests for whether quangos should exist are in general, pretty good principles.

In general, in the case where functions are going back to the Civil Service, it is good practice even though it won't save money. Mainly because it restores democratic accountability - ministers will no longer be able to palm off difficult decisions onto quangos. There are all sorts of ancillary benefits too - the civil service might be a monolith bureaucracy but even it is more accountable and transparent than quangoland.

Of course I am sorry on a personal level when people have to lose their job, but the duties of government do not include pointless make-work.

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throckenholt · 14/10/2010 09:47

the flip side is if it goes back to a government department then it is subject to political rather than objective management.

Being at arms length is no bad thing for a lot of services.

longfingernails · 14/10/2010 09:51

throckenholt Maybe that's why left-wingers love the EU so much.

Democratically elected politicians, taking decisions and being accountable for them to the people - shocking!

Much better to have decisions made by fonctionnaires and commissars, right?

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throckenholt · 14/10/2010 10:32

much better the decisions being taken by people who know what they are talking about !

longfingernails · 14/10/2010 10:38

Unthinking respect for the "expert" is misplaced.

Experts are generally just as divided as everyone else; their disagreements are just more subtle and their mistakes are more dangerous.

Advisors advise, ministers decide.

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throckenholt · 14/10/2010 11:02

methinks we are unlikely to agree so I'm not going to argue with you.

My feeling is whilst some probably could happily disappear we are in danger of losing some useful things in the rush to get rid.

longfingernails · 14/10/2010 12:33

The best quango cut of all: the TRADE UNION MODERNISATION FUND.

The abolition of that slush fund for laundering taxpayer money to the Labour party is excellent news. Hopefully it pushes Labour one step closer to bankruptcy!

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lingle · 14/10/2010 13:11

can anyone link to an up to date list please?

I want to know if leasehold advisory service will remain


longfingernails · 14/10/2010 13:18

Here is the full list

It says the Leasehold Advisory Service is under consideration (page 6). Will work towards a merger with a specialist advice service. Decision by April 2011.

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Jcee · 14/10/2010 13:25

Longfingernails I agree with you that the coalition tests are sensible principles to decide by and those quangos that fall foul of these should go, but as Throckenholt says in the rush to cull that's dangerous where the alternative is unclear or yet to be agreed.

I think the issue of accountability and transparency is an interesting one...

Yes quangos are arms length bodies but they are ultimately accountable to their sponsoring Govt dept so, as a result, whilst they advise, they don't make decisions singlehandedly or without ministerial approval. However, they also prove useful as handy scapegoats to have around for when things backfire

longfingernails · 14/10/2010 13:28

Yes - if decisions have been rushed for political reasons, that isn't good governance.

However, I see no sign of that happening - there are hundreds of quangos which are still under review.

That suggests that they are not blindly saying yes/no to each one.

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Avocadoes · 14/10/2010 13:40

"no quango whatsoever needs Communications Officers"

Erm, most of them are serving the public and the public need to be told what they are doing. Clearley they should not have excessive PR departments but thats very different from saying they should have no PR expertise.

Are you seriously saying that Ofcom, the media regualtor, doesn't need communcations officers? When major controversies arise, like the televising of Jerry Springer the Opera, do we not expect Ofcom to work hard to make the public aware of how they can complain. When they launch large public consultations on important changes like digital switchover should they not have experts advising them on how to make sure all sectors of society are consulted? When they report should they not publicise those reports?

It is not intelligent to make blanket assumptions such as "all communcations officers are a waste of space". Or blanket assumptions such as "abolishing quangos save money".

BiL works for a quango that is to be merged. Nobody will lose their job so there are no staff savings to be made. Severing their building lease and suppliers contracts will be more expensive than staying continuing with them. Offering relocation allowances will cost. Rebranding the new merged body will cost. Its not clear why the decision has been made other than political spin.

lingle · 14/10/2010 13:54

thank you longfingernails.

Sonnet · 14/10/2010 14:00

I, for one, am very glad to see a local Quango go - WNDC -

Best News I have heard for a year!

ornamentalcabbage · 14/10/2010 14:11

Thanks for the link LFN. I had no idea some of them existed!

LadyBlaBlah · 14/10/2010 20:09

Only a twat could write that OP

It is really quite vile revelling in other people's misfortune

legostuckinmyhoover · 14/10/2010 20:13

LFN, 'we'll hear the squealing of the vested interests on the news channels all day', is that from normal everyday people loosing their jobs you mean?? Just how insensitive can someone be?

Its funny how people say 'get rid of quangos' but dont actually know what they are or what they do. just shows how much they read the tabloids and how much they dont bother to actually find out for themselves. Then when the media throws out a few that sound odd-everyone jumps on the bandwagon and calls out for massive job losses. I dont suppose the sun or the DM have listed what major NHS related bodies do and how we all will loose out by loosing them? I guess it's the same for all tory voters.

When all the quangos go, the research done by independent doctors, experts, researchers will be done by whitehall. the ideas/arguments will have little transparency. the tory governemnt will be able to claim they know best on the NHS and health, education etc. It won't be for the good of everyone, it will be for the good of them.

Besides which the Tories and lansley etc dont even know if it will save in the long run and apparently have no idea how many job losses there will be. Great! They have obviously clearly thought this through Hmm.

Last point, i have just read that Lansley says he is enhancing transparency, but there has been no public consultation on his plans...again Confused.

cupcake75 · 14/10/2010 22:03

My quango is going but the end result is likely to be a policy disaster that will cost much more money in the long run, reduce not increase accountability and leave people worse off. It will also probably wind up being recreated in about 4 years time.

mrsdennisleary · 14/10/2010 23:10

Longfingernails Labour has put on 34,000 members since the election so reports of Labour's demise are wishful thinking on your part. It is the Tories whose membership is falling through the floorup but you have dodgy billionaires and Uncle Rupert to make up any gap.

I shudder at the thought of Tory rightwingers deciding on matters now within the remit of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology. End to developments on stem cell research.

There will be no savings as a result of the quango cuts. Goverment legal advice which i have seen clearly tells them that staff have to transfer back into departments. Look forward to lots of hard questions in Parliament on the additional costs to the public purse as a result of the quango cuts.

BeenBeta · 14/10/2010 23:14


Let us not forget though that there are good quangos and bad quangos.

The good quangos are needed by everyone. The bad quangos will hopefully go and we will save the money on something more useful.

longfingernails · 15/10/2010 06:08

LadyBlaBlah I am revelling in the fact that so many quangos are being closed. That is a great thing.

I am sorry for those who are affected but the economic job of the government isn't to employ people for no reason. It is to create the conditions so that many jobs can be created by entrepreneurs.

If the work that quangocrats do is not necessary then they should not be employed to do it. You might think that heartless - but I say, if it cuts the tax burden or impact of spending cuts on millions, it is actually much more compassionate than blithely spending wastefully. If the sum total of all the quango closures allows corporation tax to be cut by 1p, or alternatively, keeps 100 fire stations open when otherwise they would be closed, then it is more than worth it.

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Blackduck · 15/10/2010 06:18

Agree re tone of OP, but then the govt and then smug rubbing of hands 'Bonfire of the Quangos' rhetoric is just more of the same - sod the poor workers, and hey, lets be told the REAL cost of shutting these down (leases on buildings anyone??)
You are naive to think advisors advise and minsters dcide. Advisers were cut out of the loop ages ago. So experts shouldn't have a say and minsters should make the final decision, despite the fact they don't listen to their advisors.

And hollow laugh at creating conditions so that many jobs can be created by entrepeneurs - what world are you living in?

longfingernails · 15/10/2010 06:30

Blackduck You may not believe it, but it is nonetheless true. If governments create conditions in which there is good infrastructure like roads and rail, and low taxes - then businesses and productive private sector jobs will be created.

Nigel Lawson cut the top rate of income tax from 60p to 40p. Such was the rate of business influx into entrepreneur friendly Britain, that the total income tax revenue actually went up substantially!

The way to encourage aspiration is to reward achievement. No good saying you are all for aspiration, but then treating the rich like lepers, as though they have done something wrong.

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legostuckinmyhoover · 15/10/2010 06:42

Lawson? ha! he introduced the poll tax didn't he? Wink

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