The word Quango (Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organisation) has long been synonymous with public sector profligacy and red-tape. It is now taking one of the worst recessions in history to achieve what ministers over the decades have promised but never delivered. The Quango cull has started in earnest.
In 2009 it is estimated that the 1160 (approx)n Quangos in existence cost the taxpayer about Â£64 billion.
Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth, many Quangos are now being abolished with scores under threat.
The Independent’s Nigel Morris has compiled a useful list of the current targets.
Many Quangos argue that they save the taxpayer more than they cost and some that they provide important oversight functions that are not available in any other form.
But in the quest for their 25% minimum cuts ministers are beginning to gather the low hanging fruit of easy savings.
Some of the Quangos on the abolished list are well known entities such as Ofcom, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Health Protection Agency.
As much of the work of these Quangos as possible will be soaked up by Whitehall, but much will fall by the wayside. There is also the question of what happens to all those people made redundant by the Quango closures.
We should consider though that each of the Quangos was initially set up to perform what was seen at the time as a required function. That they are such a target of cuts today shows that many have burgeoned out of control. Quango oversight was lacking.
Maybe in future we need to give a new Quango a five year life span after which it is abolished. If the need is still there then a new Quango be formed with up to date terms of reference. Then there would be a five year rolling review of these organisations.