Approximately 500 public bodies will be reformed to some degree, with 199 abolished and a further 120 merged.
Over 900 bodies were subject to a cross-government review undertaken by all departments in spring/summer 2010. This included all non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), along with a number of non-ministerial departments and public corporations.
The Minister for the Cabinet Office announced the outcome of that review on 14 October 2010. Updated proposals published on 15 December confirm that approximately 500 public bodies will be reformed to some degree - with 199 abolished and a further 120 merged. Once all reforms have been implemented, the total number of public bodies will have reduced by more than 250.
The Public Bodies Act sets out the Parliamentary procedure for an order to be made. A minister is required to lay a draft order, along with an explanatory document, in relation to one or more bodies listed in the Act’s schedules. The draft order is then subject to Parliamentary scrutiny which can include the application of an ‘enhanced affirmative procedure’ which lengthens the scrutiny period and allows for a select committee to examine and make recommendations on a draft order. The draft order must be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it comes into effect, and gives legal authority for a reform to be completed.
The advantage of this procedure is that it allows the government to make a very broad range of reforms without unnecessary delay, while also allowing Parliament to scrutinise individual reforms in detail, and ensure that the strict safeguards in the Act have been applied. Guidance for officials can be downloaded on this page.
Our proposals set out plans to abolish 199 bodies, merge 120 and substantially reform a further 176. Reforms to individual bodies are the responsibility of sponsoring departments, in partnership with the public bodies themselves.
The Cabinet Office Public Bodies Reform Team has produced a checklist for departments to assist in the implementation of reforms. This checklist provides departments with high level pointers on issues they may need to address in implementing the reforms, and where appropriate to seek further advice and contacts.
The Cabinet Office has published guidance on the principles and processes by which departments should review their non-departmental public (NDPBs) in the future. This includes processes to examine the key functions of a NDPB, how these contribute to the work of the NDPB and the sponsor department, and whether these functions are still needed. If it is decided that the functions are still needed then the review should examine whether a NDPB is the most appropriate delivery model.