Economic Quangos: English regions will suffer

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The Independent Online

Like the layers of rock laid down during the Jurassic, Triassic, Cretaceous and other periods, the Department for Business has a similar accretion of quangos gathered under successive ages of Edwardian paternalism, Wilsonian intervention, Heathite corporatism, Thatcherite "enterprise", plus some Blairite and Brownite topsoil. Vince Cable is busily drilling through it all.

The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy, SITPRO (Simplifying International Trade) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Body (WAB) will close in the next year. The British Shipbuilders Corporation, with no staff or budget, will be wound down. The annual cost of these is £8.6m.

Much more significant are the English Regional Development Agencies, which will also be scrapped, saving hundreds of millions of pounds. The English regions will be at a disadvantage to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will keep their development agencies that attract foreign investment. A UN report last week revealed that foreign investment flow to the UK collapsed by over 90 per cent in 2009.

Also going: Industrial Development Boards; Learndirect; Institute for Learning; Standards Verification UK; Investors in People UK; and The Hearing Aid Council, though some were closing anyway. Future candidates for slimming: Ofcom (£77m, with boss on £392,000); Local Better Regulation Office (£4.4 m); ACAS (Advisory Arbitration and Conciliation Service) (£47m); and the Local Better Regulation Office (£4.4m).

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