Friday, September 24, 2010

The quango bonfire

The coalition government has made no secret of its plans to impose "austerity measures" (or deep cuts) fairly swiftly. We seem to learn more about these plans by the day. For example, a list has recently been leaked that suggests that about 180 quangos may be axed with another 124 facing possible mergers. The BBC reports the story here and states:

"[. . .] The list suggests 180 quangos will be abolished and 124 merged. A further 338 will be retained, although 56 of them will be subject to "substantial reform". The future of another 100 bodies is yet to be agreed, according to the letter. The largest numbers of quangos facing the axe are those linked to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice.

Quangos, or "non departmental public bodies", have repeatedly drawn politicians' fire over the years back to former Conservative deputy PM Michael Heseltine's pledge for a "bonfire of the quangos". Last year both Labour and the Conservatives pledged to review the bodies with the aim of saving money. Among those listed as facing abolition are the Olympic Park Legacy Company, responsible for planning what happens to the Olympic site after the 2012 Games, the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards and Cycling England - whose functions will be transferred elsewhere. Postcom and Ofcom could be merged while the School Food Trust would have its status changed to an independent charity and Ofsted and the Food Standards Agency would be kept but subject to "substantial reform". [. . .]"

I have not seen the list, but would be very curious to see which quangos related to education may be set to merge or be axed. I will be following this story with interest.

The future of the Student Loans Company, tourism groups Visit England and Visit Britain, the UK Atomic Energy Agency, Central Office of Information, the Carbon Trust and the Environment Agency are yet to be decided, according to the document.

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