In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to public sector organisations that have a role in the process of national government but are not part of a government department.NDPBs carry out their work largely independently from ministers and are accountable to the public through the Parliament; however, ministers are responsible for the independence, effectiveness and efficiency of non-departmental public bodies in their portfolio.
The term includes the four types of NDPB (executive, advisory, tribunal and independent monitoring boards) but excludes public corporations and public broadcasters (BBC, Channel 4 and S4C).
The UK Government classifies bodies into four main types. The Scottish Government also has a fifth category- NHS bodies.
These bodies consist of boards which advise ministers on particular policy areas. They are often supported by a small secretariat from the parent department and any expenditure is paid for by that department.
These bodies usually deliver a particular public service and are overseen by a board rather than ministers. Appointments are made by ministers following the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. They employ their own staff and are allocated their own budgets.
These bodies have jurisdiction in an area of the law. They are co-ordinated by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, and supervised by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council, itself a NDPB sponsored by the Ministry of Justice.
These bodies were formerly known as "boards of visitors" and are responsible for the state of prisons, their administration and the treatment of prisoners. The Home Office is responsible for their costs, and has to note all expenses.
NDPB differ from executive agencies as they are not created to carry out ministerial orders or policy, instead they are more or less self-determining and enjoy greater independence. They are also not directly part of government like a non-ministerial government department being at a remove from both ministers and any elected assembly or parliament. Typically an NDPB would be established under statute and be accountable to Parliament rather than to Her Majesty's Government. This arrangement allows more financial independence since the government is obliged to provide funding to meet statutory obligations.
NDPBs are sometimes referred to as quangos. However, this term originally referred to quasi-NGOs bodies that are, at least ostensibly, non-government organisations, but nonetheless perform governmental functions. The backronym "quasi-autonomous national government organization" is used in this usage which is normally pejorative.
In March 2009 there were nearly 800 public bodies that were sponsored by the UK Government.This total included 198 executive NDPBs, 410 advisory bodies, 33 tribunals, 21 public corporations, the Bank of England, 2 public broadcasting authorities and 23 NHS bodies. However, the classification is conservative and does not include bodies that are the responsibility of devolved government, various lower tier boards (including a considerable number within the NHS), and also other boards operating in the public sector (e.g. school governors and police authorities).
These appointed bodies performed a large variety of tasks, for example health trusts, or the Welsh Development Agency, and by 1992 were responsible for some 25% of all government expenditure in the UK. According to the Cabinet Office their total expenditure for the financial year 2005–06 was £167 billion.
Critics argued that the system was open to abuse as most NDPBs had their members directly appointed by government ministers without an election or consultation with the people. The press, critical of what was perceived as the Conservatives' complacency in power in the 1990s, presented much material interpreted as evidence of questionable government practices.
This concern led to the formation of a Committee on Standards in Public Life(the Nolan Committee) which first reported in 1995 and recommended the creation of a "public appointments commissioner" to make sure that appropriate standards were met in the appointment of members of NDPBs. The Government accepted the recommendation, and the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments was established in November 1995.
While in opposition, the Labour Party promised to reduce the number and power of NDPBs.The use of NDPBs continued under the Labour government in office from 1997 to 2010, though the political controversy associated with NDPBs in the mid-1990s for the most part died away.
In 2010 the UK's Conservative-Liberal coalition published a review of NDPBs recommending closure or merger of nearly two hundred bodies, and the transfer of others to the private sector.This process was colloquially termed the "bonfire of the quangos".
NDPBs are classified under code S.13112 of the European System of Accounts (ESA.95). However, Statistics UK does not break out the detail for these bodies and they are consolidated into General Government (S.1311).
The term quango or QUANGO is a description of an organisation to which a government has devolved power, but which is still partly controlled and/or financed by government bodies. The term was originally a shortening of "Quasi-NGO", where NGO is the standard acronym for a non-government organization, and in this sense was used neutrally.
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The Welsh Government is the devolved government of Wales. The government consists of ministers, who attend cabinet meetings, and deputy ministers who do not, and also of a counsel general. It is led by the first minister, usually the leader of the largest party in the Senedd, who selects ministers and deputy ministers with the approval of the Senedd. The government is responsible for tabling policy in devolved areas for consideration by the Senedd and implementing policy that has been approved by it.
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The Shareholder Executive (ShEx) was a body within the UK Government responsible for managing the government's financial interest in a range of state-owned businesses for commercial rather than political interests. It was part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and staffed by civil servants, many of whom were corporate finance professionals with private sector experience. It was led by Mark Russell as Chief Executive at the time of its closure.
The UK Statistics Authority is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for oversight of the Office for National Statistics, maintaining a national code of practice for official statistics, and accrediting statistics that comply with the Code as National Statistics. UKSA was established on 1 April 2008 by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, and is directly accountable to the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills was a non-departmental public body that provided advice on skills and employment policy to the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations.
An executive agency is a part of a government department that is treated as managerially and budgetarily separate, to carry out some part of the executive functions of the United Kingdom government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government or Northern Ireland Executive. Executive agencies are "machinery of government" devices distinct both from non-ministerial government departments and non-departmental public bodies, each of which enjoy a real legal and constitutional separation from ministerial control. The model was also applied in several other countries.
The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The government is led by the prime minister, who selects all the other ministers. The country has had a Conservative-led government since 2010, with successive prime ministers being the then leader of the Conservative Party. The prime minister and their most senior ministers belong to the supreme decision-making committee, known as the Cabinet.
Following the 2010 United Kingdom general election, the UK Government announced plans to curb public spending through the abolition of a large number of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations (quangos). On 23 May 2010, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne unveiled a £500million plan to reduce the budget deficit by abolishing or merging many quangos. This was styled in the national press as a "bonfire of the quangos", making reference to Girolamo Savonarola's religiously inspired Bonfire of the Vanities. The cuts and closures received criticism in some quarters, but was generally welcomed by the business community.
Jeane Tennent Freeman is a former Scottish politician who served as the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport from 2018 to 2021. A member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), she was the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley from 2016 to 2021.