Embargoed: 00:01 Sunday 8 November 2020
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has proposed new measures to transform the effectiveness and transparency of public bodies. The campaign group is calling on the government to implement a points-based appointments system, by applying the underlying principles of the UK’s new immigration system.
The covid crisis has highlighted the significant influence that public bodies hold. These bodies have substantial decision-making responsibilities and are funded by taxpayers to the tune of £206.4 billion in 2019, as detailed by a Cabinet Office report. Despite this, their board members tend to come from a narrow pool of appointees who often hold two or three board positions simultaneously.
Public bodies often do not represent the balance of views in Britain. TPA analysis revealed that nearly half of last year’s declarations of political activity supported the Labour Party, with less than a third supporting the Conservatives. Furthermore, of appointments and reappointments made in 2018-19, just 10.6 per cent lived in the North West or North East compared to 27.8 per cent in London and the South East, according to the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
The TPA report - with a foreword by former MP Douglas Carswell - suggests the positive and negative qualities needed to calculate a net number for each applicant. The criteria would be published at the start of the application process, and the final shortlist published after the process is completed. Implementing this transparent and innovative system would encourage new talent to apply to public roles, and create vital political and geographical diversity. It would also engender diversity of opinion, which is sorely missing in the public sector.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
"The well-paid public sector elite which runs Britain's closed shop quangos have long given up on representing taxpayers.
"Many will wonder what qualifies this narrow coterie of complacent quangocrats to make such crucial decisions in so many areas of public life.
"It's high time we clean up the state by ending the appointments merry-go-round and implement a transparent points-based system."
Douglas Carswell, former MP for Clacton, said:
"At present, our public appointment system not only lacks openness. It actively encourages ‘groupthink’.
"This paper proposes a points-based system for making appointments to ensure openness and a greater degree of meritocracy.
“Without bold action, of the kind proposed here, Britain will be stuck with the elitist echo chamber of our impenetrable quangocracy.”
TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Media Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance
24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)
Notes to editors:
Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) campaigns to reform taxes and public services, cut waste and speak up for British taxpayers. Find out more at www.taxpayersalliance.com.
TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
The Taxpayers Alliance recently published the ‘Members of the Board’ paper. It found the annual cost of quango board members was £124 million.
The Taxpayers Alliance published a public appointments briefing. It found the south of England was the principal residence for over 40 per cent of appointees.
The TaxPayers' Alliance has launched the Clean Up The State campaign.