Press release

Government unveils £2 billion in cumulative savings as public bodies are cut by a third

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The government has saved more than £2 billion cumulatively since 2010 by reforming or abolishing quangos (public bodies).

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Over £2 billion has been saved cumulatively since 2010 through reforming and abolishing public bodies – with plans on track to reach the forecasted £2.6 billion by May 2015 – Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude today announced.

These savings have been achieved through a top-to-bottom review of over 900 public bodies, abolishing at least 185 and merging over 165 bodies into fewer than 70. This extensive work, undertaken over the past 4 years, has reduced the overall number of public bodies by a third.

The programme has now completed over 95% of the planned abolitions and mergers, achieving savings of £900 million in 2013 to 2014 alone a year ahead of schedule - the equivalent of funding 25,000 experienced police constables.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

As part of our long-term economic plan, this government is cutting waste and driving reform to save taxpayers billions. Thanks to the dedication of so many officials working in these bodies, we have delivered our promise to transform the ‘quango’ landscape to make it more accountable, more efficient and better run than ever before.

With around a third fewer public bodies than at the time of the last general election, we have saved a cumulative £2 billion since 2010 – defying the scepticism of our critics.

Beyond these top level savings, the public bodies reform programme has also demonstrated further benefits including greater transparency and accountability, with many bodies coming under direct ministerial control or closer to local communities. It has also produced a number of new models of delivery, seeing public services operating in more innovative and efficient ways.

In July 2012, the British Waterways’ functions and assets were transferred into the Canal & River Trust, the charitable trust in charge of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales. This is the largest single transfer of assets to date from the state to the charitable sector. Since this transfer took place, the Canal & River Trust has raised more than £15 million in funding and recruited 2,000 regular volunteers who gave over 50,000 days of volunteering in the past year – double the number of days under the old British Waterways Board.

Today’s announcement comes alongside the release of the Public Bodies 2014 report which sets out the size and cost of public bodies, executive agencies and non-ministerial departments in a single document so taxpayers can see exactly how their money is spent.

Notes to editors

Abolished public bodies include:

  • Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the purchase of Wines
  • Zoos Forum
  • Advisory Committee on Packaging
  • Home Grown Timber Advisory Committee
  • Appointments Commission

Under the public bodies reform programme a body should only exist at arm’s length from government if it meets 1 of 3 criteria:

  • it performs a technical function
  • its activities require political impartiality
  • it needs to act independently to establish facts

All public bodies are now subject to an ongoing triennial review programme, co-ordinated by the Cabinet Office. This makes sure that all public bodies remain subject to a regular and robust review programme.

All comparative figures are based on the 904 public bodies reviewed in 2010.

The NAO review of Public Bodies Reform savings can be found here

Published 10 November 2014