Cameron pledges to take on 'quango state'

Tory policy could affect organisations that deal with the third sector

The Conservatives are to review the future of non-departmental public bodies serving the voluntary sector as part of David Cameron's pledge on Monday to halt the "growth of the quango state".

In his speech People Power - Reforming Quangos, the Tory leader announced that his shadow cabinet would review every public body in their departments.

Last year the Taxpayers' Alliance estimated there were 1,162 quangos in all, costing taxpayers £63.5bn a year.

Capacitybuilders and the Commission for the Compact were set up specifically to serve the third sector, but numerous other quangos, such as the Big Lottery Fund, English Heritage and the Learning and Skills Council, have an impact on charities.

Nick Hurd, Conservative charities spokesman, said: "We have been asked to review every quango and that is what we will do. Every organisation should be asking themselves 'why do we exist and can we do more with less?' That question is even more pressing for those organisations that receive funding from the taxpayer."

Cameron said the Tories would scrap communications regulator Ofcom, but Hurd would not say which third sector quangos might be in the firing line.

Cameron said reducing the overall figure would create greater democratic accountability, more transparency and reduce costs.  

He said some quangos would hand powers back to ministers, whereas others would be reformed, slimmed down or abolished.

"The problem today is that too many state actions, services and decisions are carried out by people who cannot be voted out by the public, by organisations that feel no pressure to answer for what happens in a way that is completely unaccountable," said Cameron.

"The growth of the quango state is, I believe, one of the main reasons people feel that nothing ever changes, nothing will ever get done and that the state just passes the buck and sends them from pillar to post instead of sorting out problems."

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