Cutting QuANGOs

QuANGOs and other Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) and Executive Agencies are ways for governments to intervene in many areas of life without ministers being accountable for the interventions. Some are essential, and a large proportion of their combined spending goes to healthcare and higher education, which cannot simply be "saved", though it might be managed differently. These are considered under their respective policy areas.

But QuANGO spending is so huge (£132 billion in 2007/8) that even if one makes allowance for these, one could still save many billions of pounds by cutting back on their numbers and activities. Besides the direct spending, many of them act to inhibit the economy, so the economic benefit from such cuts will exceed the direct savings.

With around 1,000 of the organisations in existence, it is not practical to provide an exhaustive list of bodies to cut. But the following are a few that should be at the top of the list:

  • Regional Assemblies
  • Regional Development Agencies (and their subsidiary organisations) and Development Corporations
  • Carbon Trust
  • Sustainable Development Commission
  • Environment Agency (cut down rather than cut completely - some of what the EA does is essential, but they have been given such power without responsibility that in many cases they are a major obstacle to progress and good environmental practice).
  • Environmental Campaigns (Keep Britain Tidy)
  • British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (all-independent schools, as proposed, can make their own decisions about IT - let a thousand flowers bloom)
  • School Food Trust
  • Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
  • National College for School Leadership
  • Waste & Resources Action Programme
  • Office for Fair Access
  • Standards Board for England
  • Various Advisory Committees and Boards (e.g. Advisory Committee on Carbon Abatement Technologies, Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, Industrial Development Advisory Board, Renewables Advisory Board, Third Sector Advisory Body, etc.)
  • Local Better Regulation Office
  • Low Pay Commission
  • Office of Manpower Economics
  • Union Modernisation Fund Supervisory Board
  • CapacityBuilders
  • Commission for the Compact
  • Children's Workforce Development Council
  • Training and Development Agency for Schools
  • Housing Corporation (responsibility devolved to local authorities and simplified by Basic Income provisions)
  • Arts Council
  • Gambling Commission
  • Commission for Rural Communities
  • Home Grown Cereals Authority
  • DairyCo (Milk Development Council)
  • British Potato Council
  • Rural Payments Agency
  • Westminster Foundation
  • National Policing Improvement Agency
  • Natural Environment Research Council
  • Information Commissioner’s Office (£5bn budget... really?!)
  • Equality 2025 (do we need so many different disability groups, or can we cut a few?)
  • and so on, ad infinitum

An exhaustive list of quangos (slightly out-of-date) and some other suggestions for cuts can be found in the Taxpayers Alliance paper linked above.

We would also reduce the scope of regulators by ensuring competition in those parts of their industries in which competition is feasible, and limiting regulation to only those parts that are genuine natural monopolies.

Whilst a precise costing would require a detailed review, it is likely from the costs of the above and other estimates that at least £5 billion could be saved through QuANGO cuts. But that also illustrates the difficulty of reducing Britain's structural deficit of around £100bn: this is often perceived as one of the softest and largest budgetary areas to look for cuts, but it is likely that only 5-10% of the required savings can be found from these sources.