One of the early announcements made by the present government was that there was to be a "Bonfire of Quangos". This has obviously been similar to my garden bonfires, produced lots of smoke, very little fire and left a majority of the rubbish untouched!
Today's news item in the Daily Mail is typical -
What bonfire? New 'super quango' has already hired 5,000 staff sacked from abolished health bodies
Whilst the Health Protection Agency, the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, the ten Strategic Health Authorities and the 152 Primary Care Trusts are being wound up, the Department of Health has admitted that a ‘significant majority of staff’ will be transferred to the new organisation ‘continuing the roles they currently fulfil’.
So far the new quango "Public Health, England" has taken on some 5000 staff, although it doesn't actually formally come into being until April 2013! I expect that most of them will be collecting redundancy payments from their existing quangos, before being re-employed, no doubt at higher salaries, in this new one.
This, in fact, mirrors what happened to me back in the 1970's. I was employed by the Department of Trade and Industry as an engineer in National Air Traffic Services, and the whole department was transferred to the new Civil Aviation Authority. All staff were compulsorily transferred (without any compensation) and the government of the day trumpeted the huge reduction in civil servants, some 7000 if my memory serves me correctly. But we were still all paid for by the state, as, at that time the Authority had no income of its own. But the overall number of employees increased; the "sponsoring department", the DTI, had to have a group to oversee the activities of the CAA, and of course the CAA had to have a Chairman, Board and all the associated support staff. Since then, the Air Traffic Services, for which I worked has been privatised, but the CAA continues to have something like a 1000 regulatory staff.
I'm quite sure that this "Bonfire of Quango" will be no more than what happened to me, all the same people will be doing all the same jobs (whether they are needed or not) in a new organisation which will generate its own overheads. But the government will be able to claim that 164 quangos have been abolished. Of far more interest to me would be "How much money has been saved?".
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