Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has today summarised plans to substantially reform a large number of Public Bodies, or quangos, across government.
The review is part of the government’s commitment to radically increase the transparency and accountability of all public services.
Public bodies reform: proposals for change [pdf]
The government intends to introduce a Public Bodies Bill that will enable many of these plans to be implemented.
The reform process, which covered all of government’s Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), as well as other bodies, such as some non-ministerial departments and some public corporations, aims to reinvigorate the public’s trust in democracy and also ensure that the government operates in a more efficient and business-like way.
The government proposes reforming 481 bodies. Of these, 192 will cease to be public bodies and their functions will either be brought back into government, devolved to local government, moved out of government or abolished altogether. Examples include:
- devolving responsibility for the work of development corporations to local government
- bringing organisations under more direct ministerial control, such as the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission, Renewable Fuels Agency and, as previously announced, the Appointments Commission
- enabling organisations, such as the Design Council and the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), to become charities.
As part of the planned reforms, if it is clear that a public body has accomplished its mission and no longer needs to exist, it will be abolished.
Speaking about the changes, Mr Maude said that this process represented the restoration of political accountability for decisions which affect people’s lives and the way taxpayers’ money is spent:
We know that for a long time there has been a huge hunger for change. People have been fed up with the old way of doing business, where the Ministers they voted for could often avoid taking responsibility for difficult and tough decisions by creating or hiding behind one of these quangos.
Today’s announcement means that many important and essential functions will be brought back into departments meaning the line of accountability will run right up to the very top where it always should have been.