Quangos: The Unseen Government of the UK

May 18, 2008 12:45 AM

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) presents the full list of the UK’s vast quango industry, a detailed run-down of the staff and cost of the 1,162 bodies, boards and agencies that make up Britain’s Unseen Government. 

Update 17/03/15: See our report on the Coalition pledges to take on Quangos here and here

It is now five years since the Parliamentary Select Committee on Public Administration recommended that the Government publish such a list, a recommendation that the Government has failed to fulfill. In the absence of an official list, the TPA has compiled one instead, providing the public with the most comprehensive information available on the organisations that increasingly spend their money and influence their lives without democratic oversight.

The report can be found here (PDF).

***********************************
Update: For the TaxPayers' Alliance's more recent survey of UK quangos (2007-08), see here (PDF)  ***********************************

Key Findings:
  • There are 1,162 quangos in the UK, running at a total cost to the taxpayer of £64 billion, equivalent to £2,550 per household.
  • Even under the Cabinet Office’s restrictive definition of quangos, the cost of these bodies has risen 50% in the last ten years.
  • UK quangos now employ an army of almost 700,000 bureaucrats.
  • Even the Government itself does not know the full extent of the unaccountable quango industry, which range from the massive e.g. Job Centre Plus (Staff: 70,042, Cost: £3.5 billion) and the Courts Service (Staff: 19,986, Cost: £704.8 million); to the bizarre e.g. the British Potato Council (Staff: 49); or the West Northants Development Corporation (Staff: 34, Cost: £15.3 million)
  • When the total number of quangos is added to the other government subsidiaries such as local authorities and NHS trusts, the total number of organisations controlled by the UK Government rises to 2,063, costing the taxpayer £257 billion and employing over 5.1 million people.

Ben Farrugia, author of the report and Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

Government in the UK is now so large, diverse and complex that it is impossible for anyone to manage effectively, let alone by Ministers with no prior experience of management and little in-depth understanding of the work carried out by their departments. Government today tries to do too much, and consequently fails; the structure of government needs to change if we hope to see better value and significant improvements in our public services.

The full report provides a full list of the quangos along with individual data on staff numbers, taxpayer funding and expenditure as well as national totals and can be found here (PDF).

***********************************
Update: For the TaxPayers' Alliance's more recent survey of UK quangos (2007-08), see here (PDF)  ***********************************

Latest Blogs:

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Working for the taxman

6:00 AM 26, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Further thoughts on the Autumn Statement

4:56 PM 24, Nov 2016 James Price

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Have we had too much austerity?

10:57 AM 23, Nov 2016 Alex Wild

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Launch a War on Waste and simplify taxes

9:45 AM 23, Nov 2016 The TaxPayers' Alliance

TaxPayers' Alliance Icon

Reforming capital taxes

6:00 AM 19, Nov 2016 Harry Fairhead