Protesters rally to save quangos

Protesters will try to put out the bonfire
Protesters will try to put out the bonfire

By Hannah Brenton

The Unite union will hold a rally in Westminster today calling on the government to stop the "bonfire of the quangos".

Union members will demonstrate alongside agricultural workers and film buffs who disagree with government plans to disband publicly-funded bodies like the UK Film Council, Forestry Commission and the Agricultural Wages Board.

The government argues that quangos - or 'quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations' - are ineffective and costly, but protesters say they provide essential services.

Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, who will address the rally, said: "With next to nothing in the way of prior consultation, we are extremely concerned at the rush to dismantle these essential public bodies. We suspect this has more to do with silencing critics than improving the operation of government.

"There are over 400 organisations affected by the government's proposals, including the UK Film Council, instrumental in funding the multi-Oscar nominated film, 'The King's Speech', and the Forestry Commission, where plans to sell-off land have been opposed by 460,000 people in an online petition so far," she added.

The public bodies bill gives government departments the power to abolish quangos and reclaim tasks that were previously outsourced. There are currently 481 quangos in the UK, with 192 of them facing the axe.

The union will seek to build momentum against the changes after criticism from the Commons' public administration committee last month, which described the changes as rushed and said they would not bring about "significant cost savings".


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