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August 19, 2007

Your Tax Money at Work

This is where it goes:

Researchers at the ERC unearthed the remarkable cost of the quangos from a document on the Cabinet Office's website. In total, the 883 quangos listed cost £167.5 billion in 2005/06, up from £24.1 billion in 1997/98. The Ministry of Defence's budget this year is £32 billion.

The taxpayer provides three quarters of the money spent by quangos. The rest comes mainly from taxes levied on businesses.

Abolish that lot and we could get rid of both income and corporation tax. Sounds like a pretty good deal actually. So, when do we start?

August 19, 2007 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


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No one could be more opposed to quangos and determined to see most of them shut down than me. But a couple of things to bear in mind on the cost:

1. Around two-thirds of that total cost is attributable to quangos associated with one department of government - the Department of Health. Effectively, the NHS is a giant set of quangos, amongst which are the Primary Care Trusts and the NHS Trusts (which as a pair make up over £100bn of that sum).

2. Of the executive NDPBs (the busy-body, rather than funding quangos, which is what we usually have in mind when we rage against them), over half of the total cost of around £36.8bn lay within another department - the Department for Education and Skills. But the lion's share of this cost is also attributable to two quangos - The Learning and Skills Council (responsible for post-16 education and training) and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It turns out, then, that although they calls these NDPBs "executive", most of their cost lies (like the NHS quangos) in the allocation of public funds.

This shouldn't diminish the attacks on the wastefulness of our quangocracy, but we should bear in mind that it is the sclerosis induced by bureaucracy that is their really harmful aspect. They cost and waste money, but only a fraction of that headline figure. We can probably save several billion pounds by scrapping most of them, and that's money worth saving, but we can't save anywhere near £167bn.

Posted by: bgp | Aug 20, 2007 4:16:08 AM