Earlier today, the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) held its second evidence session on the ‘Accountability of Quangos and Public Bodies’. Our Chief Executive Jonathan Isaby gave evidence as a witness.
Jonathan attacked the waste of several taxpayer-funded bodies performing similar roles. He later questioned why so many taxpayer-funded bodies, such as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), were not listed as quangos, despite receiving taxpayers’ money.
As was highlighted during the session, the issues of accountability and value for taxpayers’ money are clearly linked. In the case of IPSA, a body created to deal with MPs’ pay and expenses in the wake of the expenses scandal, a lack of accountability has seen its Chief Executive pocket a salary of £120,000. This farce would be funny if it weren’t funded entirely by hard-working taxpayers.
This situation is recreated throughout the quangocracy. In January we reported the explosion in the number of six-figure salaries taken home by quango chiefs and mandarins in taxpayer-funded bodies with not always obvious aims. Allowing this gravy train to carry on unaccounted for would be a disgrace. Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is being spent – especially when it is being wasted.
There is of course no one-size-fits-all solution to the governance question. Some matters need to be held at arm’s length from government. But that doesn’t mean it has to be hidden away from public scrutiny. Officials should never be given the opportunity to lavish taxpayers’ money on themselves.
There is no balance to be struck on accountability: the public deserves to know how its money is spent. The government must ensure that taxpayer-funded bodies perform their roles efficiently under the watchful eye of public scrutiny. Wasteful reproduction must be scrapped, pay packets must be appropriate for the work performed – and taxpayers must be respected.
Jonathan's evidence session can be seen here.