UKIP under fire from university experts

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UKIP has come under fire from Sheffield University experts – who say the party’s hostility to quangos is dangerous and flawed.

Nigel Farage’s party says it would ‘save tens of billions - by culling the quangos, challenging foreign aid and holding fake charities to account’.

UKIP has also claimed the Government could save £4 billion a month by cutting quangos. However, university academics say their research challenges those views.

Professor Matthew Flinders, of Sheffield University’s politics department, says UKIP’s anti-quango rhetoric is over-simplistic and rarely leads to far-reaching change.

He said: “Quangos are a vital form of government which deliver and regulate a range of services.

“While quango-bashing is a common pastime for politicians, in reality they rarely deliver substantive changes as most quangos are fulfilling essential functions.

“From the DVLA, the BBC, Ordinance Survey and the Student Loans Company, most people will have contact with and benefit from quangos.”

Colleague Dr Katharine Dommett said: “While closing quangos sounds simple, it is far from straightforward.

“Successive governments have attempted to deliver savings through quango reform, but have achieved little.

“This is because while quangos are publically unpopular, their functions remain important to the smooth running of the state.

“If a quango is closed, then central government nearly always end up performing the task.”

Since 2010, the coalition has closed 130 bodies, and merged 150 more. This has reportedly saved £2.6 billion, but those figures are disputed by the National Audit Office.

The Sheffield team found many functions previously conducted by abolished quangos were now performed by government departments.