Sunday, May 18, 2008

TPA On Quangos


The government's subsidiaries

Today sees the publication of the TPA's blockbuster guide to quangos (see here for paper, and here for Sunday Times coverage).

As BOM readers will know, despite their firm assurances pre-1997, this government has totally failed to grip the quango problem. Instead, they've tried to cover it up. Their most recent action was to suppress the detailed annual breakdown of some (but only some) quangos previously provided by the Cabinet Office.

So, building on the excellent online quango database maintained by the Economic Research Council, and supplemented by yet another huge bundle of FOI requests, the TPA has made available the facts government doesn't want us to know:
  • In 2006-07, taxpayers funded 1,162 quangos - at a cost of nearly £64 billion, equivalent to £2,550 per household
  • Quangos now employ over 700,000 bureaucrats
  • Even on the Cabinet Office's restricted definition of what constitutes a quango, their cost has increased by 50% in 10 years

The TPA's Ben Farrugia, who laboured day and night for months to produce the report (well done Ben), points out that these unaccountable offshoots hugely increase the complexity of government. Quite apart from their cost, the whole structure is riddled with duplication and conflict.

Indeed, it's quite possible that the reason the government publishes no coherent overall summary is because they can't actually understand it themselves.

What a fiasco.

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