MPs blast 'botched' drive to cut quangos and save millions

THE Government's bid to save millions of pounds by culling scores of quangos is doomed to fail because it has been rushed and botched, a scathing report by MPs claimed yesterday.

The verdict is a blow for the Government which has made great play of slashing the 901 unelected bodies by almost a third as it seeks to cut the cost of Whitehall administration and improve accountability. Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward is among those to be axed.

But the Tory-led Public Administration Committee says the "bonfire" of quangos has been "poorly managed" and is unlikely to create significant savings or make decision-making more accountable. It says to more responsibilities should have been handed over to charities or mutuals in line with the Government's Big Society vision.

It also warns that pre-election talk of cutting the "costly bureaucracy" of quangos by the Tories created "a false expectation that the review would deliver greater savings".

The committee concluded that there was no meaningful consultation over which quangos should be axed, the way in which the 900 bodies were to be reviewed was "hopelessly unclear" and there was no proper procedure for different Departments to follow.

Labour Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett, who is MP for Hemsworth, said: "Thousands of jobs are now in peril and the government needs to press the pause button and come forward with a proper review of the quango state."

But Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude defended the process and vowed to continue, adding: "Reform of public bodies is long overdue and our plans will bring about the largest scale reform of the public bodies landscape in a generation."