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WRAP and EA at risk under conservative quango review

The Waste & Resources Action Programme and the Environment Agency could be under threat under a Conservative Government.

Conservative Party leader David Cameron has pledged to cut the number of unelected quangos to save money and increase accountability.

In a speech to think tank Reform, he said that shadow cabinet ministers will be asked to identify which bodies within their areas should be cut back.

A Conservative Party spokeswoman said: “At this stage every quango will be up for review and this may result in no reform, some reform or total abolishment. We are not going in to any other details at this stage but the WRAP and the EA are included.”

Cameron said many of them will be slimmed down radically, pay levels will be completely different and some of them will be abolished.

He added: “The problem today is that too much of what Government does is actually done by people that no-one can vote out, by organisations that feel no pressure to answer for what happens and in a way that is relatively unaccountable.”

The Conservative Party has already announced plans to publish a standard set of cost measures for different quangos.

Each Shadow Cabinet Minister will have to ask key questions including;

  • Does this organisation need to exist?
  • If its functions are necessary, which of them should be carried out in a directly accountable way within the department?
  • And which, if any, should be carried out independently, at arm’s length from political influence?
  • If there really is a need for an independent quango, how can we make sure it is as small as possible, operating with maximum efficiency, frugality and respect for taxpayer’s money?

Cameron said the process of review will go on up to and beyond the election. He confirmed that media regulator Ofcom would lose its policy-making functions and the schools’ Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency, which develops the national curriculum, would be closed.

A WRAP spokeswoman said: “WRAP believes it is absolutely right that there is close scrutiny of how taxpayers’ money is spent. Our top priority is to deliver what we are asked to and do that very well, making sure we deliver good value to taxpayers.

“We think we’ve done a very good job and have clear evidence of that.'

The spokeswoman outlined what WRAP sees as it successes. These include:

  • Launched the construction commitment: Halving Waste to Landfill, a voluntary agreement with over 100 signatories since its inception. These signatories, from all parts of the supply chain, have set resource efficiency requirements in contract documents to the value of £4.2 billion;
  • Supported the recycling industry through a period of great economic uncertainty, actively supporting 101 recycling businesses and contributing to £64 million of turnover growth in the sector;
  • Ended packaging waste growth in the retail supply chain, despite increases in sales and population, through the Courtauld Commitment;
  • Helped an additional 620,000 UK households become committed to reducing food waste, saving them £250 million; and increased the proportion of households committed to recycling to 65 per cent.

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