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CABE lost funding in ‘botched’ quango cull

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The controversial abolition of 192 quangos – including CABE – was ‘botched’ and could fail to save money or make services more accountable, a parliamentary report has claimed

The report by the House of Commons public administration select committee has slammed the government for its handling of the process which saw 192 quangos scrapped and a further 171 bodies merged in the autumn of last year.

It is claimed the cull – which dealt fatal blows to the UK Film Council, The Theatres Trust and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council – failed to take account of  public or quango staff opinions while its vetting process for the review of bodies was ‘hopelessly unclear’.

Committee chair Bernard Jenkin explained: ‘The whole process was rushed and poorly handled and should have been thought through a lot more. This was a fantastic opportunity to help build the big society and save money at the same time, but it has been botched.

‘I suspect that in the short term the reorganisation will now cost more than it will save. This was put together on the hoof and can be much improved for future reviews.’

The committee also criticised the government’s failure to explain why quangos were retained, suggesting this had made it ‘extremely difficult to understand the decision-making process underpinning the review, and potentially leaves some of the decisions open to further debate.’

An example it gave was the fact CLG retained the Architects Registration Board on ‘impartiality grounds’ without any detailed or further explanation being provided.

CABE’s future was thrown into doubt following the government’s comprehensive spending review when sponsoring department DCMS pulled half of its funding. The ARB was unaffected by the cull despite Conservative party claims it might abolish the body once in government.

In a statement, cabinet office minister Francis Maude said: ‘We fundamentally do not agree with the committee that our reform will not improve accountability.

‘We remain committed to seeing it through and making the reforms that the British public demand, and to stopping the meddling and expense created by unaccountable bureaucrats.’

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