Mail’s quango deception

The Daily Mail this morning falsely and maliciously lied about the cost of quangos.

Today’s Daily Mail article on quangos screams: “The cost of quango Britain hits £170bn – a seven-fold rise since Labour came to power” – a claim which fails to stand up to scrutiny.

Research by Left Foot Forward shows that the £24.1 billion figure used by the Mail for 1997/98 comes from the Cabinet Office Public Bodies statistical summary of executive non-departmental public body (NDPBs) expenditure. Comparing like with like, the figures for 2007/08 show Total Expenditure for Executive NDPBs was £43.0 billion (p.10). Adjusted for inflation this is equivalent to £33.9 billion in 1997/98, representing an increase in real terms from £24.1 billion of just 40 per cent. The Daily Mail were therefore out by a factor of five.

The £170 billion figure for 2008 used in the Mail to justify the “seven-fold” claim appear to be taken from “Fleeced!” (p. 78, sec. 5) written by Taxpayers’ Alliance Chief Executive Matthew Elliott and David Craig. However, this is not a like-for-like comparison since the number includes figures for bodies other than NDPBs including some NHS spending.

The Economic Research Council have a separate Quangos database, which includes NDPBs as well as Executive Agencies and Non-Ministerial Departments. This gives a total figure of £88.9 billion for 1997/98 and £174.7 for 2005/06 (the last available). These figures represent a real terms increase of 97%, way off the seven fold increase that the Mail claimed.

Matthew Sinclair, Research Director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance told Left Foot Forward:

“The figure the Mail used from 1997/98 has not come from us.”

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