David Blackburn

One way to slim down the quangocracy

One way to slim down the quangocracy
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Despite Cameron's recent announcements on the issue, there's still quite a few frustrating question marks over how they'll go about demolishing the quangocracy.  One attractive is turning quangos into angos - making them autonomous by introducing market principles and ensuring that organisations operate profitably and efficiently. To a certain, limited extent, this process is already underway. An employee of the General Medical Council (GMC), a completely autonomous and profitable organisation, recently explained to me how the BMC is taking over the Postgraduate Medical Education Training Board (PMETB).

The PMETB is representative of the explosion of the Quango state. Its accounts show snowballing costs, all funded by the taxpayer. In 2007-08 it cost £5,956,566; last year that figure reached £7,012,704. In the same period, the difference between income from the taxpayer and income from subscription fees doubled from £944,371 to £1,839,967. It makes sense for the GMC, which is the country's major medical regulator, to merge with the PMETB and control another important aspect of regulation whilst relieving pressure on the taxpayer.

It's encouraging that the private sector is acting independently of central government in this, but the Tories would benefit from setting out more specifics about how they will undo the quango state. Sure, irrelevant quangos - such as the British Potato Council, whose contribution to national betterment was a report into the costs of potato bruising - should be abolished. However, essential services must be protected, and there is no reason why the BMC's intelligent lead should not form part of the Tories' template.