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.”

8 Responses to “Mail’s quango deception”

  1. Matthew Taylor

    Ultimately neither the Mail’s piece, nor this, really addresses the point – are we spending *more*, if so why, and what are we getting from it.

    The answers seem to be ‘Yes’, don’t know and don’t know.

  2. Melinda

    @Matthew Taylor

    – We’re spending more, but there is no excuse for shoddy and misleading journalism. We are not spending 7 times more.

    – Quangos encompass a wide range of bodies, some of which do some very good things and are well worth the cash. Why, instead of complaining, don’t you do some research yourself and find out what these things are?

  3. Theo Blackwell

    Who funds the taxpayers alliance?

  4. Anon

    http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_stories/090917-ndpb.aspx

    Looks like the Civil Service has had enough of the Mail’s spin as well…

  5. shamikdas

    Thanks for that link! Brilliant!!

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