Bonfire of the quangos

It has been reported that the UK government will be breaking out their supply of Sunny Jim and scrunching up the newspaper in order to heat the house by burning up 177 quangos.

Quangos or Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) are government funded organisations that operate as if they were independent of Government and are able, as much as possible, to spend their budget they see fit.

A number of  proposed quangos still have their fate to be decided such as  BBC World Service, the British Council and the Environment Agency.

Whilst these quangos are mostly England and Wales based, some, such as the British Council, employ people in Northern Ireland.  It looks like jobs will go and that could mean people in Northern Ireland as well.

It may also have some effect on how our own remaining quangos fair under potential restructuring to save money.  The Public Appointments 2008-2009 Report  detailed that as at 31 March 2009, there were some 1634 public appointments to 111 bodies in Northern Ireland.  The recent(ish) Review of Public Administration has been used to cull a few NDPBs here is there room for more to go? How will that affect people overall?  Do people even know what a lot of these NDPBs do?  Are they essential? Can their functions be brought fully 'in-house'? How much is spent on quangos that could be re-invested elsewhere?

I am not advocating either leaving them alone or cutting them all.  Improvements can always be found in how organisations operate and function.  In this particular time with the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition going for a slash and burn approach will this provide an encouragement for the NI Executive to really examine the NDPBs in Northern Ireland and see where cuts can be made?



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