Privatisation looms for executive agencies

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MORE than half the civil service is now in Next Steps agencies and three-quarters will have been hived off into the executive agencies by mid-1995, the annual review of the agencies, published yesterday, indicates.

By April 1994, agencies with more than 2,000 staff will be expected to take responsibility for their own pay bargaining, with increased emphasis on performance-related pay. Privatisation of agencies also looms, with DVOIT, the former computing arm of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the first pencilled in, for January 1994.

The annual review shows agencies collectively hit three out of the four targets set for them. William Waldegrave, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the agencies, by publishing annual reports and performances, were contributing to open government. But Marjorie Mowlem, his Labour opposite number, said there were daily examples that they were producing less ministerial accountability as ministers passed questions about their performance back to the agencies for answer. She said the break-up of national pay arrangements would produce 'a broken-down and isolated civil service ready for only one thing: privatisation'.