All new governments like culling ‘quangos’ that have outlived their usefulness. Chris Gilson find that Francis Maude’s reforms fit this recurring pattern pretty well, with three tenths of bodies likely to survive intact or in somewhat reconstituted form

Analysing the government’s list of changes to quasi-government agencies (the so-called ‘quangos’, which are in fact quasi-governmental agencies, and not at all non-governmental) shows that the outcome is more stability than Francis Maude’s public pronouncements might suggest. The overall outcomes are:

Outcome for organizationPer cent
Body retained47
Body abolished24
Still under review13
Body transferred or reconstituted10
Body merged with another (or devolved)5
Body turned into a charity or other form2
Total100%

Depending on the outcomes of ongoing reviews, it seems likely that three out of five quasi-government agencies will survive the attempted cull largely unchanged (some in a reconstituted form), while most of the outright abolitions are concentrated on fairly small advisory committees or bodies that have outlived their usefulness. There is a strong emphasis upon reintegrating larger abolished bodies into central departments, often with a ‘transparency’ or ‘accountability’ justification. In fact this often reflects the IT potential from contemporary ‘digital-era’ developments for departments to handle directly matters that they previously found difficult to supervise, discussed elsewhere on this blog. There were only isolated examples of any ‘big society’ transition of government bodies into becoming charities. And just one body (out of 367) was devolved to local government – suggesting that the rot has already set in on ministerial intentions on this front.

There were only isolated examples of any ‘big society’ transition of government bodies into becoming charities. And just one body (out of 367) was classed by the Guardian as devolved to local government – suggesting that the rot has already set in on ministerial intentions on this front. (Nine Regional Development Agencies (see previous blogs) are classed in our table as ‘abolished’ although some functions will pass to new sub-regional quasi-government agencies. Three local Development Corporations (for Thurrock, West Northamptonshire and London Thames Gateway) were also classed as abolished, but a few functions will pass to local government here too, especially for the Gateway).

Looking across Whitehall our larger table below shows that four departments (FCO, DfID, GEO and Treasury) stood aloof and offered up little for the Maude cull exercise. By contrast five others were enthusiastic (MoJ, Defra, BIS, DH and DCMS), each offering around 40 or more bodies for review, and accounting for the bulk of abolitions – along with Eric Pickles at DCLG, who culled almost two thirds of bodies reviewed. Defra and DH emerged as the transfer/reconstituting kings. The remaining departments fell in between these poles, offering some sacrificial victims but generally small bodies.

The quango cull of 2010

DepartmentRetainAbolishUnder reviewTransfer/ recon-stituteMerge (or devolve)Turn into a charity/ otherTotal
Ministry of Justice (MoJ)33113552
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)191461049
Business, Innovation and Science (BIS)159126244
Department of Health (DH)10102040
Department of Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS)20814336
Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG)61511124
Department for Education (DfE)36817
Ministry of Defence (MOD)151117
Home Office (HO)1041116
Cabinet Office714315
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)823215
Department for Transport (DfT)9615
Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)9312
Foreign Office (FCO)2248
Department for International Development (DfID)22
GEO112
HM Treasury11
Total, all departments170874636197365
Per cent46.623.812.69.95.21.9100

Our full analysis of the changes is also available in a downloadable form. It is derived from the Guardian’s online listing.

Click here to respond to this article.

Print Friendly