As our national debt heads towards a staggering £1 trillion (that’s £1,000,000,000,000 in real money), it is worth considering how much taxpayers’ money is wasted each year.
Last May, the Taxpayers’ Alliance estimated that there were 1,162 quangos in the UK employing 700,000 bureaucrats with an annual running cost of £64 billion (£64,000,000,000). It doesn’t take a genius to realise that eliminating or reducing the cost of quangos will go some way to restoring the country to good financial health.
The main problem with quangos is that they are completely unaccountable to the public. Their chief officers receive eye watering salaries and bonuses which are not performance related. A recent investigation by Channel 4 News revealed that the expenses bill from the board of just 24 quangos came to almost £1 million for the last 3 years.
Channel 4, which is a state owned corporation, was itself in the spotlight in this week’s episode of Tonight on ITV which revealed that Kevin Lygo, C4's director of programmes, was paid £1,136,000 last year - five times more than the Prime Minister.
The programme also revealed that Network Rail’s chief executive, Iain Coucher, earned £830,000 and Joanna Killian, chief executive of Essex County Council and Brentwood District Council was Britain’s highest paid town hall boss with a total salary of £247,164.
The usual justification for paying these ridiculous salaries is that you have to pay the best to get the best. But nobody ever tests the theory. Are we really supposed to believe that you can’t find someone suitably qualified to run Channel 4 for “only” half a million quid a year?
There are many thousands of unemployed, but highly skilled, executives who would willingly and competently do these jobs for a fraction of the cost.
David Cameron says that there will be a bonfire of the quangos if the Conservatives win the election. Hopefully he won't renege on this promise, but he may well face fierce opposition from within his own party, because politicians are not averse to sitting on a few quangos themselves.
Barnet Council leader Mike Freer, who hopes to be MP for Finchley, receives £14,000 a year from the London Development Agency for attending a strenuous 8 meetings, and a further £10,248 a year from London Councils for just 1 meeting a month. Adding his council allowances of £55,487, brings his total taxpayer funded income to £79,735 a year. Kerr-ching!
Of course Freer’s package pales into insignificance when compared to the daddy of all troughers, Brian Coleman. Last year, Not The Barnet Times reported that Coleman had amassed allowances totalling almost £103,000. For most people, this would be quite enough. But not for our Brian.
In August, Coleman was appointed chairman of the Fire Service Management Committee with an allowance of £10,266, and chairman of the National Joint Council for Local Authority Fire & Rescue Services, paying £5,130. Kerr-ching, Kerr-ching!!
When Don’t Call Me Dave last attended a meeting of the Chipping Barnet Conservatives’ Executive Council, Coleman told party members that if we want the best people applying to be councillors, we have to pay good money.
The problem with that argument is that we are already paying good money, but we are getting