Reviewing quangos

Today I refresh my suggestion that the government during its spending review improves its financial and policy controls over quangos. The long trend to hive off  more and more activities into so called independent  bodies should be halted. In practice the public expects the government to shoulder the blame for anything in the public sector that goes wrong, so Ministers need to review policy and resources of the quangos that report to them and ensure value for money and fitness for purpose.

Ministers should be appointed by each Secretary of State to review the annual budgets, to review the annual reports and accounts and undertake any other meetings with quango heads where things are going wrong or where a change of direction is needed. This should all be reported to Parliament in the usual way. The review should decide which of these bodies are a needless overhead or a function the relevant department could carry out, and where a quasi judicial role or some other function warrants specialist management and a quango format under a policy and law determined by Ministers in Parliament.

If we take the case of Homes England it had assets of £21 bn and receives grant in aid of almost £5bn a year. It would be good to have a more open debate about the need to hold all these assets in such a body and to find out how much value taxpayers get for the grant in aid, given the substantial private sector money available to provide housing of all kinds.

Hollowing out government responsibility by giving it to so called unelected bodies does not succeed in shifting blame if things visibly go wrong. It can however shield these activities from proper scrutiny and criticism allowing waste and poor performance to persist. Some quango bosses come to think of the Quango assets as some independent fiefdom., when they are just part of the huge state balance sheet. The Treasury should review how much insurance individual quangos need as they are all backed by the state, and be critical of any independent financings which  occur at higher costs than the general government. Network Rail, for example, has substantial  index linked borrowings and foreign currency borrowings (c. £20bn)which increase public sector debt risk.


  1. David Peddy
    August 4, 2021

    Hear , hear.
    GFI Sir John

  2. DOM
    August 4, 2021

    The aim of the modern politician in government is to avoid blame at all costs, as blame damages their careers, ambitions and incomes. QUANGOs are therefore the perfect foil for such individuals who seek election but once in government act in a manner contrary to the stance they took while on the campaign trail.

    One of the most insidious of all the Quangos is the Electoral Commission. Set up by Blair and designed to act as a gatekeeper to keep out those parties who presented a threat to the two main parties which may explain why successive Tory governments have never reformed or indeed abolished it. It exposed its sinister purpose during and after the Peterborough by-election. Moreover, Tory silence on this attack on our democracy revealed the inner nature of what both parties are capable of.

    Again, the general public are uninterested in such matters and that allows such rank abuse to go unnoticed and unpunished.

    I am convinced most elected politicians, their parties and their interests genuinely couldn’t care less just as long as their pay, pensions and careers are protected. All will be sacrificed to protect their position at the table of State power. This culture will at some point make democracy a sham with the voice of the people removed.

    QUANGO’s are adored by responsibility avoiding politicians in government and that means they will continue and expand their powers unobstructed

  3. turboterrier
    August 4, 2021

    Depending on which side of the fence you are on many believe that politicians are reasonably well paid and receive very good packages at the end of their parliamentary careers. But all these quango organisations can and does lead to abdication of responsibility in personal research on any given subject matter. What you research and understand you can debate, as there is an element of ownership in the data collected.
    These quango organisations in my opinion have a tendency to become the tails that wag the dog and the costs of having them far outweigh their perceived performance.
    We end up with little Hitler type organisations making decisions with far reaching effects, whose decisions are just seemed to be rubber stamped when presented to the house. The at times totally unstanciated recommendations especially in areas of climate change and energy are suddenly law and there is never proper debate and as seen on countless occasions far too few politicians understand the subject and take the quango recommendations as gospel. Hence the rise of the new religion, but based on what?

    1. J Bush
      August 4, 2021

      IMO only those who agree with diverting political responsibility to unelected quangos should fund them. I would be interested to see just how many people want to see their taxes spent in this way.

      1. bigneil - newer comp
        August 4, 2021

        JB – – how many people want to see their taxes used to fund the invaders of this country to live here while their govt approved numbers increase?

    2. MFD
      August 4, 2021

      Agree 100%,with all of your contribution to this debate

    3. Timaction
      August 4, 2021

      The new religion indeed. Carrie on Boris! None of this will work unless and until the Government dismantles Blairs recruitment and values legacy. That is all things Pc/Woke, lefty, forget service delivery and purpose. It was the single most ruinous action he and Campbell deliberately did to undermine our Country. He adopted recruitment and selection processes to ensure all lefty Pc types who believe in Boris’s religion rise to the top and everyone else just sees “emperors without any clothes”! Your Government have had 11 years to do something about it, tells me that the Tory’s have also been undermined and are longer conservative!

    4. Fedupsoutherner
      August 4, 2021

      Oh, so true Turbo.

    5. James1
      August 4, 2021

      Close down much the majority of them. Quite simple really. Just release the unelected quangocrats to give them the chance to be hopefully infinitely more productive in the private sector. Lock the doors of their buildings, turn off the lights and sell the properties or leases to the highest bidders as quickly as possible.

  4. lifelogic
    August 4, 2021

    Indeed. As you say ministers need to review policy and resources of the quangos that report to them and ensure “value for money and fitness for purpose”. Seems rather unlikely that this will happen anywhere in government. Most government activity in housing is surely unfair subsidised competition to the private sector. Why should some people get cheap housing when others (often on the same or lower salaries) get none? How are the lucky ones chosen. Surely better to always charge market rents and help those who really cannot afford these.

    1. Iain Gill
      August 4, 2021

      agreed, at least then market forces would apply to “social” housing suppliers, and they would be incentivised to provide housing where people actually want to live, instead of sticking them in jobless wastelands as many do now.

  5. lifelogic
    August 4, 2021

    So Allegra Stratton has sensibly defended her decision to keep her ageing diesel car, saying, “I don’t fancy [an electric car] just yet” because she needed a vehicle to visit relatives without having to make lengthy stops to recharge the battery. Her Golf is third hand and she has had it for 8 years. Perhaps the first sensible think she has said on the topic.

    She should also have correctly pointed out that buying a new electric (car rather than keeping the old Golf) was A. far cheaper (by perhaps ~ £60,000 over six years), B. far more convenient due to range and rapid refilling times, C. Will not need a very expensive new battery after 6 years and D. It saves more CO2 by not causing a new EV and battery to be manufactured anyway.

    The energy needed to manufacture EVs and batteries and indeed to charge them produces lots of CO2 we have no sources of zero carbon electricity. Wind turbines produce loads of CO2 in their manufacture, backup and maintenance – especially offshore wind. Does the energy department employ and sensible engineers or listen to them?

    1. Alan Jutson
      August 4, 2021

      Do as I say, not do as I do again.

      Are you really surprised, it’s ok for those who preach green, to travel around the country virtue signalling when it’s all at the taxpayers expense, but when it comes to personal choice and cost, they all think rather more rationally.

      1. J Bush
        August 4, 2021

        Aye and not just Stratton. Johnson used a jet to go to Cornwall, why not set an example and go by train?
        The fact that he didn’t do this, speaks volumes. Like the hypocrisy and double standards about social distancing and wearing masks at the G7.

        1. MiC
          August 4, 2021

          I defended Labour politicians who send their children to private schools as NOT being hypocrites, so long as they do not condemn others for doing that – and I have not heard any say such a thing.

          The point is that they are working to bring State education up to a comparable standard, but are not there yet, and so they fully understand that people – including themselves – will try to do the best for their families in the interim.

          The position here is analogous.

          Johnson himself has never said that extremely busy key people – nor anyone else for that matter – should not use private planes.

          He does claim to be working with others globally to change the world so that systems and technology are in place – for all – to reduce man’s impact on the environment without unduly impeding day-to-day life.

          However, once again, in the meantime, it is arguable that some people would be harming their business’s interests or that of whatever entity they represent by not using every available convenience that their competitors probably will while they are here.

          Whatever, private jets are perceived as an extravagance per se and so their use should be kept to an absolute minimum at all times.

          However, this still does not make him a hypocrite – on this point at least.

          1. Peter2
            August 5, 2021

            Wrong again MiC
            They are not “working to bring State education up to a comparable standard ”
            They belong to political party that wants to abolish private education.

            And I disagree with your point on the climate.
            Those who are telling us what must be done to save the planet in this climate emergency, must set an example to us all and be the leaders of this campaign.

          2. MiC
            August 5, 2021

            You do not address my main point at all, which is that neither Johnson nor those parents are hypocrites according to the definition of that word. I was not writing about ANYONE else.

            What you are doing is deciding that you will label people whom you dislike as something very bad, i.e. hypocrites – in the hope that it will prove fatal to their careers – and then hoping that others don’t notice that your accusation is actually logically groundless.

          3. Peter2
            August 5, 2021

            You used the analogy of private schools and then switched to private jets.
            I didn’t label anyone.
            I also don’t want to destroy anyone’s career but I will vote when I have the chance, for those candidates who set an example based on their expressed political views and the party policies they stand for in an election.
            Surely you do too MiC?

          4. Peter2
            August 5, 2021

            And I do think that the G7 and COP26 should have set and example and done their conferences virtually.
            And that the PM could have travelled by train or electric car to his G7 meeting.

        2. oldwulf
          August 4, 2021

          @J Bush
          Maybe BJ should have cycled to Cornwall …. on one of his bikes.
          Now THAT would have got everyones attention.

      2. bigneil - newer comp
        August 4, 2021

        Alan – just the same as waving in the migrant flood – – how many of the virtue signalling do-gooders a few years ago actually took some in – like they all said they would?

        1. MiC
          August 5, 2021

          Nobody is “waving in” anyone.

          It’s just that people like the RNLI know the law of the sea, and UN agreements, and abide by those.

          If what I suspect that you want were done, then this country would rightly be arraigned for Crimes Against Humanity.

          And those people make up only a small fraction of irregular entrants or settlers in any case.

          1. Micky Taking
            August 5, 2021

            RNLI tries to rescue ‘those in peril on the sea’ but should not include those who put themselves in peril.
            I have a gift to them in my will, perhaps when I decided who should benefit others might have been put higher up in the possibles.
            When I was invited to visit a Lifeboat station for a tour – by arrangement, I wouldn’t want to be disappointed due to the Lifeboat being in the middle of the channel ferrying illegals over here.

    2. Timaction
      August 4, 2021

      Who’s producing the science to ensure that EV’s actually save CO2, that’s the gas making up 0.04% of our atmosphere! Where’s the evidence that CO2 is actually the cause of any actual changes in our atmosphere? Has anyone actually looked at any other trace gases that make up large portions of our atmosphere? Why won’t the Politicians allow voices of opposition to this religion, especially those who have provided heaps of evidence and graphs/charts from science backgrounds disproving this stuff? How can your Government allow us to be dependent on foreign electricity generation, particularly the French who have already threatened that supply? I’m at a loss with our msm and lack of opposition to any Government policy. Investigative journalism has vanished!

    3. Barbara Bebbington
      August 4, 2021

      Heartily agree.

      1. Barbara Bebbington
        August 4, 2021

        This was a reply to Lifelogic.

  6. Peter
    August 4, 2021


    The other problem with quangos is they are now another huge area for political patronage. Favoured individuals are put into well paid positions without necessarily having the credentials to do a good job, but rather as a thank you for past services rendered. This has led to a merry go round of serial failures, moving from one plum position to another. Health services heads and council chiefs are often completely useless for the same reason too.

    It is not just quangos. We now have huge companies classified as ‘public service providers’. They don’t get sufficient scrutiny. Nor do they suffer if they fail. They need proper scrutiny too. Francis Maude made matters worse by having a small band of favoured firms that got government business. His Efficiency and Reform Group made matters worse. Even the big accountants are in on the public service provider gravy train now.

    The traditional civil service had a defined pay structure that imposed a cap of sorts on cost. Public service providers have no such restraint. ‘Consultants’ are employed at huge daily charging rates. It is now a vastly more expensive quasi civil service with work allocated to favoured companies rather than handled by state employees on fixed terms and subject to a recruitment process,annual appraisements and long term consequences for poor performance.

    The tea drinking civil servants that people used to complain about may actually have been the better option

    1. Peter
      August 4, 2021

      A desire to reduce the number of civil servants has opened up a market to various companies who have not necessarily done a good job. Politicians can say they have cut the number of civil servants but then fail to mention a private firm has been engaged to do the work. Whether there is adequate due diligence before employing such firms get we don’t know..

      Why is the prison service outsourced? In the USA they are able to give lengthy sentences to criminals. The short prison sentences handed out by judges in the U.K. may be because of a liberal mindset – but perhaps cost may also have been considered when sentencing guidelines are decided.

      In earlier times all prison work was directly handled by government. Even the hangman was paid a fixed amount for each execution. It was piece work, not pensionable employment. Poor performance meant no further engagements.

      I imagine if the death penalty was reintroduced selecting the executioner would be outsourced to a favoured firm and he(possibly she too nowadays) would cost thousands of pounds a day. Albert Pierrepoint only got travelling expenses in 1956 when there was a last minute reprieve!

      1. J Bush
        August 4, 2021

        Reducing the numbers of civil servants:

        They may not always replace the lower level permanent staff leaving, but they don’t reduce the number of people working there. The ‘vacancy’ is filled by using out sourced contract workers. They also expand their castle building by creating box ticking exercises, which are also carried out by out sourced contract workers. This attempts to lend the impression they are really efficient at achieving so much, when in fact the opposite is the case. The cost is subsequently ‘lost’ under something like service provision, instead of being listed under its rightful place, employment costs.

      2. Everhopeful
        August 4, 2021

        Oh gosh!
        Just reread that!
        Please delete.
        Not what I meant.

    2. MFD
      August 4, 2021

      I also remember them spending most of their consultancy time getting the answer from the onsite engineering civil servants, then regurgitate it as an expensive report. They even used one of my drone photos without asking permission to adorn a front cover of a report, they did not even give me credits!
      After that I either said “ i do not know” or actually gave them duff info.
      Goverment waste thousands of tax payers money , its scandalous. When they already had the knowledge in house.

    3. Fedupsoutherner
      August 4, 2021

      Looking for potholes in Shropshire commands that kind of money. Honestly, Joe public could tell them.

  7. Roy Grainger
    August 4, 2021

    I would be interested to see which are the top 10 Quangos in budget terms. Are we counting the NHS ?

  8. Nig l
    August 4, 2021

    A good post but wasted. Your implication is that there is not even an annual performance review, strewth. In any event are Ministers up to doing them? Having seen some and their backgrounds, no.

    Too much unaccountable mediocrity often appointed for political/diversity reasons rather than in ability rewarded with the inevitable ‘gong’ bonus etc and why so many who would vote against this government so are never going to do its bidding, indeed as we see often from the wider Civil Service.

    Mediocre Ministers begat mediocrity supported by the self interested blob who ‘cry’ ‘call foul’ when asked to put a real shift in and of course your Government is implicit. Cummings saw through them/it all and look what happened to him.

    Most independent commentators and certainly the general public think the NHS performance during the pandemic has been appalling.very poor. It is well down various lists in terms of international performance.

    Who gets appointed to run it, the person who has been second in command whilst all rubbish has been going on and her predecessor gets to go to the House of Lords.

    Need I say any more?

  9. formula57
    August 4, 2021

    What about a new quango to assist Ministerial scrutiny, the job of which would be to rate quango performance, much like Ofsted rates schools?

    1. Donna
      August 4, 2021

      Far better than reviewing financial and policy control over Quangos, would be to review their existence and (finally) light the blue touch paper on the bonfire we were promised by Cameron, which was never delivered.

      1. glen cullen
        August 4, 2021


      2. Nota#
        August 4, 2021


        Nearly +1. Let all Quangos reapply as commercial operations with return on output and real contribution to us all being the criteria as to why we as taxpayers should pay them. Like the premise for an MP they should be servants of the people.

  10. Mark B
    August 4, 2021

    Good morning.

    This farce has been going on for decades and I see no signs of anything changing. Jobs for the boys and girls – The Chumocracy in action.

    1. Nota#
      August 4, 2021

      @Mark B – yet we are brow beaten into believing we are all in this together. Quangos, instinctively that is jobs for the boys and girls, the in crowd, the political players and those that bow to their gang leader. Then that quite rightly suggests UK Governments are inherently corrupt, as the jobs appear to go to those that can’t hack it in the real world.

      The HoC, all MP’s need to take note of what this practice says about them as individuals and their purpose in achieving a true Democracy. They should worry about it, hassle for accountability otherwise it would suggest they are as corrupt as the system suggest and are seeing a Quango as the next step when they loose their electoral seat

    2. Alan Jutson
      August 4, 2021

      Mark B

      You must not say Boy’s and Girl’s now, the WOKE Brigade are on the warpath, and looks like its succeeding at the moment given how many instructions are coming out from a whole variety of organisations, BBC included., God help us all !.

      1. Alan Jutson
        August 4, 2021

        I see from Guido Fawkes website today that even the House of Lords is debating going in for some more diversity training at between £35,000 – 70,000.
        This after already spending £82,158 on a “Valuing Everyone” course !

        John who on earth comes up with these ideas, good grief if the members in the House of Lords are incapable of sensible communication at their age, then they should not be there in the first place.

        Any courses Proposed for the House of Commons ?
        Perhaps a course of mathematics may be more sensible.!

      2. Mark B
        August 4, 2021

        Thanks Alan but I’ll continue regardless.


        Currently listening to the last survivor of HMAS Armidale which was attacked in WWII before he sadly passed away last year aged 98. Listening to him telling a harrowing tale of how many of his friends would die in the shark infest waters.

  11. Ian Wragg
    August 4, 2021

    The biggest scam of all is Motorbility .
    Perfectly healthy people having government funded top of the range cars.
    Every claim needs reviewing to halt this rip off.

    1. Everhopeful
      August 4, 2021

      Hear! Hear!
      I have heard such a car called “My treat car”!!

    2. bigneil - newer comp
      August 4, 2021

      Ian – GOVT ??? funded.

    3. Nota#
      August 4, 2021

      @Ian Wragg – the Government has money! so why do they need us to pay ytaxes

  12. Rolf Norfolk
    August 4, 2021

    What would be useful would be a map of the quangocracy – how they are personally/amorously/familially related, sit on each others’ appointment and remuneration committees; like that 60s newspaper article that mapped the connections between members of Harold Macmillan’s government.

    1. J Bush
      August 4, 2021


    2. MiC
      August 4, 2021

      A map of political party post-holders, and their connections to foreign businesspeople, to the Royals, etc. might be equally or even more interesting

    3. MiC
      August 4, 2021

      PS, you get a word-map of many of these in Private Eye, but as you suggest, a family tree type of picture would be worth a thousand words perhaps.

    4. Iain Gill
      August 4, 2021

      which school they went to, which college, which regiment they were in…. thats a very very good idea

      1. Peter
        August 4, 2021

        Iain Gill,

        Speak nicely to lifelogic and he might be able to oblige.

  13. Bryan Harris
    August 4, 2021

    Very good points, but one wonders why they have to be made.

    Shouldn’t quangos be set performance targets and standards as well? We should all understand their brief and how good they are at achieving it.
    Quangos in many eyes are ripe for pruning and asset stripping. Too many have evolved their own little empires.

    Responsibility for us the taxpayers getting real value from money rests on the shoulders of ministers – they need to take this role very seriously.

    There is still the need for a bonfire of quangos – We should make it an annual event.

    1. SM
      August 4, 2021

      “Shouldn’t quangos be set performance targets and standards as well?” – I can see that suggestion being applauded, because think of what it may involve:

      A Minister for Quangos
      A Permanent Secretary for the Quango Minister
      A Private Secretary for the Quango Minister
      2 SPaDs for the Minister
      A Director of Communications for the Quango Department
      A Quango Supervision and Equality Department, suitably staffed

      Sir Humphrey is drooling with excitement …

      Reply Not the idea. Just a task for Ministers already in post, served by officials who are meant to be doin* this already

      1. Nig l
        August 4, 2021

        If they are meant to be doing it, as you are close to it, why aren’t they?

      2. Bryan Harris
        August 4, 2021

        Absolutely – it needs to be emphasised that they should do their job effectively

    2. oldwulf
      August 4, 2021

      @Bryan Harris
      Maybe a quango should run for fixed periods of (say) three years. If, within any period, it doesn’t meet its performance target (within its fixed budget) then it should cease to exist.
      This, of course, should be subject to establishing the need for the quango in the first place.

      1. Bryan Harris
        August 5, 2021

        @oldwulf +1

        A rather good suggestion — Certainly a lot more control needs to be exercised over quangos, along with some proof that they are achieving something worthwhile

  14. Everhopeful
    August 4, 2021

    I know it’s not to do with a quango but see how keen Johnson is to pass responsibility on to businesses for discriminating against people who want to spend money!
    Almost as if he has been charged with closing down said businesses.

    1. Everhopeful
      August 4, 2021

      WooooHooo..I can post again!!

    2. J Bush
      August 4, 2021

      Off-loading draconian rules onto the private sector and making them responsible for this, or having to close their business down is a depraved and disgusting move.

      I would like to see every private sector business refuse entry to not just to the Johnson regime, but all the politicians who have supported this. The businesses doing so would, without doubt, receive approval and support from most of the population.

      Enough of this ‘for thee but not for me’!

      1. Everhopeful
        August 4, 2021


    3. steve
      August 4, 2021


      It’s more the fact that it’s in Johnson’s nature to always pass responsibility to someone else. Same as he always leaves mess for someone else to clean up.

      Like for example: “follow the scientific advice”…….means: ‘it wasn’t me it was them’.

      And if he hasn’t got a scapegoat when a decision needs to be made, he dithers, waffles and blusters, but will absolutely not make a decision. Except maybe to decide he has to run away and hide…, sorry meant to say self isolate.

  15. Alan Jutson
    August 4, 2021

    So we have teams of highly paid people, Spads and the like (with or without knowledge) hired at the taxpayers expense to research and advise Ministers who seem to regard these people as experts, theirs views and recommendation appear to be rarely sensibly questioned, and upon such advice Ministers agree a policy after talking amongst themselves for a while , and whilst consulting some more highly paid Civil Servants and Lawyers, again at the taxpayers expense. Then they put some other highly paid so called experts in charge of overseeing said policies, again at the taxpayers expense so that Ministers can distance themselves from any fall out, and you suggest such groups of people are then insured, again at the taxpayers expense, when they are already covered by the Government, again at the expense of the taxpayer against claim.

    One common theme appears here, at the taxpayers expense !

    Perhaps this is the problem caused by rarely having Ministers who have any actual knowledge and experience of their brief, and why re shuffles are so common.

    How many commercial organisations operate in this way ?

    1. J Bush
      August 4, 2021

      Career politicians are bane of every taxpayers life.

  16. Mike Wilson
    August 4, 2021

    For those with the time and inclination, you can obtain a spreadsheet showing all the QUANGOs from here.

    1. Andy
      August 4, 2021

      Your list is 12 years old. You can tell by the date in the link.

      1. Mike Wilson
        August 5, 2021

        So what, you don’t think any have gone in the ‘bonfire of the QUANGOs’ – do you?

  17. Iain Gill
    August 4, 2021

    SCCL (the Supply Chain arm of the NHS) is badly in need of a detailed look.

    PPE was taken off it during the pandemic and taken in-house within the DHSC, and is now in the process of being moved back to SCCL.

    SCCL in practise subs most of its supply chain (warehousing etc) to one big player, most of its IT to one big player, and so on. And get pretty rubbish quality and value for money.

    It is layered with layer upon layer of clueless public sector types, and people who have been recruited by the seniors as “friends of friends” ie completely not meritocratic.

    When you have finished having a look at that supply chain arm of the national religion, the NHS, how about looking at the Financial Ombudsman Service? The FOS is xxxxx, incompetent, dishes out random completely indefensible judgements, and seems immune from public scrutiny. Several whistle blowers and even documentaries have blown open how sub standard they are, some white wash reviews by FCA directors, and nothing has changed. This whole system does not work. We would be better subsidising people to use a “smalls claims court” type service where the decisions are taken by far better qualified people, and not the kids off the street as used by FOS.

    Plenty more where these wasteful public bodies come from.

  18. Sakara Gold
    August 4, 2021

    According to 2017 figures from the Taxpayer’s Alliance, there are 988 QUANGO’s (non-departmental public bodies) operating in the UK. Collectively they spent ~ £490 billion of taxpayers money and cost roughly £170 billion in salaries etc

    So why are roughly 20% of the UK workforce working in non-productive civil service and QUANGO jobs, funded mainly by the taxpayer? Answer – they all learned how to speak the dead language Latin at school!

    Here is my list of quangos that the nation could do without:-

    Independent Commission for Development Aid – Cost: £4.3 million – Function: Jobs for retired ex-FCO spooks
    Independent Reconfiguration Panel – Cost: £300,000 – Function: Jobs for retired NHS consultants
    Great Britain China Centre – Cost: £900,000 – Function: More jobs for retired ex-FCO China spooks
    Judicial Appointments Commission – Cost: £4.5 million – Function: Jobs for retired barristers
    Senior Salaries Review Body – Cost £2.3 million – Function: Organises pay rises for Quangocrats
    Test and Trace – Cost: £37+ billion – Function: Provide a well paid job for Dido Harding
    Gambling Commission – Cost: £1.2 million. Function: Jobs for retired bookmakers
    Single Source Regulations Office – Cost: £400,000. Function: Attempts to control the installation of goldplated toilet seats in RN warship officer messes

    Collectively QUANGOS cost about a fifth of government income. Not to mention the generous non-contributory index linked final salary pensions for the highly paid incumbents, many of whose heads earn more than Secretaries of State or indeed the Prime Minister. We should scrap the lot and save the money – many would be forgiven for thinking that their prime function is to give jobs to the old boys and girls. Not too onerous mind you, only one or two days a week. Nice work if you can get it.

    1. Iain Gill
      August 4, 2021

      well said

    2. Dave Andrews
      August 4, 2021

      Equalities and Human Rights Commission – Cost: £18 million – Function: Harass anyone who doesn’t follow their woke agenda.

    3. Nota#
      August 4, 2021

      @Sakara Gold – thankyou, we need to keep shouting and highlighting what to me is an immoral practice in an accountable democracy. We are all in this together unless the UK State awards you with non-accountable money.
      So much waste – then the Chancellor is rumored to want to inhibit the basic pensioner getting a rise on their £137.60 per week as it is too much money for the old, after they have contributed into the fund for a minimum qualifying period of 30years. Double standards of the highest order. What’s the average Quango wage?

    4. Peter
      August 4, 2021

      Sakara Gold,

      I was unaware that 20% of the U.K. workforce could ‘speak’ Latin. Source please.

      I did Latin and Greek at O level, though it is no longer widely taught in the state sector.

      I am retired now, but if you hear of any well paid sinecures please let me know.

      1. hefner
        August 5, 2021

        Check what SG actually wrote: ‘20% of the UK workforce working in non-productive civil service and quangos jobs … all learned to speak Latin at school’. How does that translate into ‘20% of the UK workforce could ‘speak’ Latin?

    5. Mark
      August 4, 2021

      The most costly quango by far is the Climate Change Committee, which is imposing costs measured in trillions with no democratic oversight.

      Also of concern is the Animal Sentience Bill, which is an enabling bill that seeks to establish a quango with rights to interfere in any area of legislation it pleases if it can construe any excuse. The risk of this being hijacked by animal rights extremists is considerable: experience of similar legislation in some US states has already been unhappy, with attacks on pet ownership, farming, diet, etc.. Their agenda makes XR seem like a bunch of moderates.

  19. Nig l
    August 4, 2021

    And in other news Wetherspoons report out of 50 million customer who have ‘pinged’ the app, not one outbreak of Covid has been reported. So the Government is not following the science whatever that means.

    Allegedly the Sage group looked at transmissions abroad but ignored the U.K. data so hospitality has been trashed ‘on a lie’

    Just like zero management of quangos. Utterly useless.

    1. MiC
      August 4, 2021

      Are there 50 million people of drinking age in the UK?

      I take it that you mean customer visits, not customers?

      1. Micky Taking
        August 5, 2021

        I failed to buy shares in Wetherspoons when the customer base must have risen so rapidly…

      2. graham1946
        August 5, 2021

        Well, you reckon there are 67 million voters.

        1. MiC
          August 5, 2021

          No, just people.

          However, you seem to think that only 17 million are entitled to any consideration by the government at all.

          1. Peter2
            August 5, 2021

            Well they did win the referendum campaign vote.
            “This your decision we will implement what you decide”

    2. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2021

      I visited my nearest city high street for the first time in ages (I support my own town.)

      30% boarded up – some shops will allow appointment only. Lots of people in masks in the open. The Tory Covid Fear job means, I’m afraid, that this is the New Normal.

      This is worse than the 70s and 80s.

      The economic depression caused by QE is yet to hit. And the Tories haven’t even bothered to acknowledge that the police were at least as exposed to this disease as the frontline NHS in their pay, one would have thought they’d want them on side at this time.

  20. Nota#
    August 4, 2021

    As you infer Sir John – organisation that take ‘Taxpayer’ money without being held directly accountable to the electorate should have no place in the UK.

    I would suggest whether it happens on or not its a corrupt practice that only has a place in despot regime’s

  21. Micky Taking
    August 4, 2021

    Quangos are basically jobs for mates, and they avoid Government being labelled to blame for problems.
    Which ones have been closed under Tory governments?

  22. The PrangWizard of England
    August 4, 2021

    Guess what? The Ministers will set up committees. After costly consultancies have had a say the civil service decision makers will recommend continuing the reviews but no action should be taken to cut back any quango. And then after all which minister will have the courage to say – we don’t need that one. That would mean doing himself out of a job.

    As for your view on the matter Sir John, why do you not say directly ministers should set about culling quangos? Too difficult, too controversial?

  23. John Miller
    August 4, 2021

    Ah, the bonfire of the quangos!

    Of course, we cannot contemplate that now.
    Think of all the CO2…

    Shame, as its long, long overdue

  24. acorn
    August 4, 2021

    According to Helen Jackson, audit manager at the National Audit Office, the Whole of Government Accounts published by the Treasury in July, “brings together the totality of government spending.” it will reflect “the audited accounts of over 9,000 bodies from central and local government and public corporations, it offers a unique view of the public finances.”

    “The [2018/19] report clearly shows the extent of the government’s liabilities, including £311bn of provisions and a public sector pension liability of £1,894bn, both of which are excluded from other national statistical measures.”

    Considered as a private sector business, UK plc is trading while insolvent and has been doing for years. The WGA Statement of Financial Position says:-

    Total liabilities £4,554.6 billion (bn)
    Net liabilities £2,455.8 bn

    Financed by taxpayers’ equity:

    General reserve £3,018.6 bn
    Revaluation reserve £558.6 bn
    Other reserves £4.2 bn
    Total liabilities to be funded by future revenues £2,455.8 billion

  25. agricola
    August 4, 2021

    The tendency for growth in quangos should be reversed not just halted. Halting them merely encourages them to grow from within.

    If Homes England has 21Bn in assets it must be building land or property suitable for modernisation, all of it geared to producing homes. It is impossible to make specific suggestions as to what to do with it other than to get the land sold to builders and use the money to improve property, making it fit to live in.

    In principal I do not like quangos where responsibility is shifted outside the democratic process. Parliament must get its head around the fact that we are out of the EU and they Parliament must start taking responsibility for how life is conducted throughout the UK. One grotesque example, we have Sturgeon a minister for part of the UK trotting off periodically to consort with the enemy on her countries future outside the UK. Behaviour little better than that of Philby and his fellow plotters.

  26. Richard1
    August 4, 2021

    Excellent piece, there must be tens of billions of savings to be made between the civil service and the quangocracy – let’s merge them and have one or the other for any given function.

    The other issue is who these people are. Blair and Brown cleverly ensured that all these positions go by default to leftists. We see this with the outrage on those rare occasions when a centre right figure is suggested for a quango position, such as on the BBC trust. SAGE for example seems to be dominated by leftist group think with one of its members an actual communist!

    The left has captured all the institutions now – the civil service, the regulated broadcast media especially the BBC, the quangocracy, academia etc. Only the govt (and these days you have to wonder about that) is from the centre right. The trouble is these kind of jobs appeal to the collectivist mindset.

    Time to fight back. Rigorous scrutiny, big cuts and much more focus on stopping activists capturing these jobs is where to start.

  27. oldwulf
    August 4, 2021

    How about a new reality TV show.
    Each quango CEO is given half an hour to defend his/her quango and to defend its budget. There is then half an hour of forensic questioning by Andrew Neil or by someone else equally competent.
    The public then votes to decide whether the quango is allowed to continue …. or not.
    The politicians are relieved of the need to make a decision on each quango.
    Even at the rate of one quango per day, the TV show would run for a long time therefore I suggest we take the quangos in order of the size of their budget and/or the pay of the CEO.

  28. glen cullen
    August 4, 2021

    We need to be honest, while quangos remain the reward position of many friends, ex-politicans and ex-civil servants the management, organisation and funding of quangos will never change – think of quangos like a peerage only with more money and less work
    Scrape the whole system and start again

  29. Andy
    August 4, 2021

    Congratulations to Italy which will surpass 70m vaccine doses today or tomorrow. And also to France which has surpassed 75m doses and is now doing about 2.5m more doses than us per week.

    Malta, Belgium and Spain have fully vaccinated a bigger percentage of their populations than we have of ours. France and Ireland will both surpass us in the coming days. Other EU countries – including Denmark – have done a bigger percentage of first doses than us.

    I remember Brexitists telling us how the vaccination programme was justification for their Brexit. Then lots of EU countries beat us anyway.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      August 4, 2021

      Sadly we’ve been held back. I suspect that we weren’t allowed to be released before the EU.

      1. No Longer Anonymous
        August 4, 2021

        And you went surprisingly quiet when we were doing better, Andy.

        It’s the CCP’s fault but they are getting away with it scot free and the West is eating itself up.

    2. Peter2
      August 4, 2021

      I note you are not giving us figures for those who have had two vaccines in Europe.

      1. hefner
        August 5, 2021

        Andy/P2, Available on ‘Country-by-country data on Covid19 vaccinations’

        As of 04/08/2021, 36,076,928 French people had got two Covid-19 vaccines, that’s 53.80% of the population ( ‘Vaccinations en France: ou en est-on le mercredi 4 aout 2021?’)

        For comparison, the UK has 38,733,334 (, 04/08/2021 figures up to 03/04/2021), and according to the same website this is supposed to represent 73.2% of the UK people.

        So, anybody curious enough could take the number of twice vaccinated in each country and divide by the advertised percentage: this gives a French population of 67,057,487 and a British one of 52,914,390. The first figure is close enough to what is thought to be the number of people in France, the second not even close to the actual population in the UK.

        Which clearly enough shows that the UK Government site does not report the percentage of the total population actually vaccinated, but a percentage related to only the fraction of the population: the one it considers worth vaccinating? the one that makes the PM, the Health Sec look good? a big mistake of the statisticians in charge of collecting the data? …

        Is there somebody in charge? Really?

        1. Peter2
          August 5, 2021

          Fair point hef.
          The other interesting thing is that the UK has therefore double vaccinated approx 2.5 million more people than France and the populations of the two countries are similar
          Which andy didnt mention when he was praising them for their efforts.

    3. graham1946
      August 5, 2021

      Still only half the job done. When will the whole EU be fully vaccinated? We mostly have a hard core of refuseniks left, and are getting on with boosters for the Autumn. When are the EU doing their boosters? I won’t wait because along with all your BS I know you don’t have a clue.

  30. No Longer Anonymous
    August 4, 2021

    Perhaps the quangos involved in green transport could be asked:

    When everyone drives electric cars…

    -will cycle and bus lanes be ripped up (seeing as they were introduced to stop pollution) ?

    – will congestion charges be cancelled (seeing as they were introduced to stop pollution) ?

    – will obstructive No Traffic Zones be ripped up (seeing as they were introduced to stop pollution) ?

    – will electricity tax be introduced to make up for loss of fuel duty (seeing as they were introduced to stop pollution)

    – will quangos set up for green transport be disbanded once this objective is achieved ?

    The problem with quangos is that they do not want to cure the problems they were set up to deal with as this leads to their own extinction.

  31. Nota#
    August 4, 2021

    What is missed by our so-called MP’s is that it is whether something is actually proper, decent and well-meaning, but how the practice ‘looks’ when it is other peoples money(In the case here the ‘Taxpayer’)

    People pay taxes to provide the necessary infrastructure services, transport, education, health etc to make us a wealthier and healthier society. When this money seemingly gets diverted to pay chums, not commercial bid for services it all starts to smell.

    1. Nota#
      August 4, 2021

      @Nota# – the impression and message our MP’s seem to be happy to send out is do as I say not as I do.

      Following that it is no surprise this double talk spins over elsewhere. As a for instance and following their exposure in the MsM we find that the charitable donations to such as the RNLI are used not to support the RNLI as advertised and defined – but to fund the new bosses political beliefs. Subscriptions to the National Trust again because of new leadership is not for maintaining national treasures but to fund the new bosses political beliefs.

      In each case the money given freely for one purpose and one purpose only is used to make one individual feel good while deploying charitable donations for an unintended purpose. There is a name for this outside of the Establishment.

      Its easy to suggest this is all OK now because the HoC has demonstrated they can get away with it.

      MP’s constantly get tripped up because brevity means a simple sound-bite is taken out of context by someone not absorbing the whole story. Then in practice money for one purpose getting diverted/used with out proper accountability feeds into the corrupt narrative.

      My understanding of our Democracy is that first a Minister is accountable then the whole HoC ensures this accountability is upheld – so why does Government(all Governments) choose to ignore their responsibility?

  32. MPC
    August 4, 2021

    I much enjoyed working for a new education quango for a few years in the nineties, where we had highly intelligent senior management and where, for several years, we advised HMT shortly before financial year end that our expenditure would be less than budget. There were good relations with the Minister, Gillian Shepherd, and there was an emphasis on quality of outputs, and also a conscious management decision from the outset not to adopt a civil service type servile work culture. Senior management regularly said this was not a ‘job for life’ and there was very good career support in terms of transferable skills development. So I don’t think quangos are inherently flawed and feel you should perhaps be asking whether today’s crop of Ministers have the skills to properly monitor the expenditure and outputs of current quangos.

    1. a-tracy
      August 5, 2021

      I agree MPC is the ppe degree fit for the purpose, it doesn’t look like it! How much economics/mathematics or operational management is in this degree as a module choice? Ministers wanting to work say in the Treasury do they have to do a training course once they are junior ministers as you would if you wanted promotion in any other organisation, it least they are transferable qualifications if they lose their seat.

  33. Hugh
    August 4, 2021

    How to kill them?

    Write a sunset clause every time one is set up, requiring a review of effectiveness and vote to continue every five years.

    1. glen cullen
      August 4, 2021

      That’s why too sensible

  34. Nota#
    August 4, 2021

    OfTopic – but follows on with previous discussion. According to Guido a good one half of this Planet have decided to ignore the UN’s COP 26 dream.

    “half the world’s people have not complied suggests that either they are not taking the process seriously “

    Then again by what type or form of democratic process is the UN elected, accountable or having any meaning beyond a talking shop for aggrieved parties. You could even argue it is another Quango spending taxpayers money and having to find a purpose to keep the money rolling in.

  35. Peter Aldersley
    August 4, 2021

    QANGO : Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation
    Descrecation of the English language, explicitly contradictory, they are Governmental, are they autonomous or are they not? Nonsense.

  36. Nota#
    August 4, 2021

    OfTopic – but follows on with previous discussions.

    Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

    Pollution from coal – Germany versus the United Kingdom

    1. Electricity generation from coal

    United Kingdom: 5 TWh (“TWh=”Terrawatt-hours”)
    Germany: 134 TWh
    Germany’s rate is almost 27 times higher than that of the UK

    2. Share of electricity coming from coal

    United Kingdom: 1.7%
    Germany: 23.7%
    Germany’s proportion of coal-fired electricity is almost 14 times higher than that of the UK

    3. Coal production in each country, expressed in TWh

    United Kingdom: 16 TWh
    Germany: 351 TWh
    Germany’s production of coal is almost 22 times higher than in the UK

    4. Consumption of all energy usage coming from coal

    United Kingdom: 54 TWh
    Germany: 512 TWh
    Germany’s consumption of all energy coming from coal is over 9 times higher than that of the UK

    5. Share of all energy generated from coal

    United Kingdom: 3.35%
    Germany: 17.53%
    Germany’s share of all energy generated by coal is over 5 times higher than that of the UK

    1. MiC
      August 4, 2021

      Perhaps the UK could ask – very nicely – the European Union to use its good offices to address this, now that it is no longer one of the Big Three there?

    2. turboterrier
      August 4, 2021

      Thank you very interesting figures.
      Will it slow us down or cause us to veer from the cliff edge?
      Not a cats in hell chance.
      Too arrogant to admit their on the wrong road.

    3. hefner
      August 5, 2021

      N#, thanks a lot.

  37. Rhoddas
    August 4, 2021

    Hear, hear Sir J,
    And if I may, on the subject of saving money.. the FT headline today…Defaults on UK’s emergency Covid loans set to be up to £5bn.. Failure by businesses to repay ‘bounce back’ funds not as bad as first feared…
    I rather think the criminal elements have had a field day here and there should be concerted efforts to recover these monies and prosecute the n’er do wells!

  38. Margaretbj
    August 4, 2021

    Agree and do they think that we actually believe they are independent.

  39. formula57
    August 4, 2021

    I see from the site shown below giving 2018/19 financial data that the official nomenclature is now arm’s length bodies (ALBs), many of which are named (like HMRC and the Supreme Court and lots of others it is hard to imagine being without) and that there are three types: executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies, and non-ministerial departments, all working in different ways with different remits (cogently explained on page 10).

    I sympathize with Ministers trying to get a grip on monitoring each because of all the distinctions and differences and with Commenters here who failed when you asked previously for suggestions on which should be abolished for many seem to perform vital functions we should not do without.

    1. hefner
      August 5, 2021

      +1, Thanks a lot f57. But do you really expect the average commentator on this blog to make the effort to look for the information on the government or parliament website and make their own mind? I think not, better to quote the DM, DE, Sun … or the ‘brilliant minds’ of the DT. Much less demanding.

  40. Paul Cuthbertson
    August 4, 2021

    Every administration vows to cut useless quangos, otherwise known as “jobs for the boys”. They cut 50 and add a further one hundred. Nothing changes. It does not matter which party is in office, the UK Establishment dictate. As an aside, all MPs should have fixed term limits.

  41. GilesB
    August 4, 2021

    Quango’s should never be permanent.

    If, and it’s a very big if, the function is necessary then it should be within a Department (or privatised).

    And their decision-making should be transparent. But they daren’t admit that they have no data on which to base their decisions. For example, how are all the quangos involved in public health making decisions when the National Flu report has not been published for NINE MONTHS. It used to be published weekly.

    1. GilesB
      August 4, 2021

      Privatised and paid for by the beneficiaries of the Quango. Good luck with finding them!

    2. hefner
      August 5, 2021

      Funny, I see on ‘National flu and Covid-19 surveillance reports: 2021 to 2022 season’, last update 29 July 2021. And it is 90 pages long.

      How comes that people so keen on commenting on this blog are just showing off how useless they are at finding information on the Government website?
      Ever doing a bit of ‘homework’ before writing?

  42. Lindsay McDougall
    August 5, 2021

    I’ve tried to find out what Network Rail’s accumulated deficit is. Does £54 billion ring a bell.

  43. a-tracy
    August 5, 2021

    The reason you don’t get many comments on posts like this is that people know they’re wasting their time. Jobs for the clique – nothing will change. Your party have been promising reform for years – you have a massive majority what is stopping you from taking an immediate axe to them? You have all identified wasteful spending in the past.

  44. hefner
    August 5, 2021
  45. hefner
    August 5, 2021

    O/T: if anyone really wants to clue him/herself up on immigration, Future Learn has a three module (12 week) course ‘Critical International Migration Law’ ‘offered’ by the University of … Kent (where else!) If one wants to have the full certificate, it will cost £36 per module (and doing the homework obviously, about 3 hours/week), so £108 (and get a 90+% mark in the course 10 multiple-choice 12-question tests and 3 written assessments) to be able not to go on putting forward half-truths, hear-says, and other tabloidesque/faragist nonsense.

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