Current Affairs

HIV quangos face the axe, while EHRC is ‘at risk’

Jessica Geen September 24, 2010
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Two HIV quangos will reportedly be abolished as part of government plans to save money.

The Expert Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and the Independent Advisory Group of Sexual Health and HIV are two of 177 taxpayer-funded bodies to be scrapped, a list leaked to the Daily Telegraph suggests.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is one of 94 bodies said to be under review.

Both of the HIV bodies offer advice to the government from a number of medical experts, while the EHRC acts as a human rights watchdog.

In the last year, the EHRC has suffered the loss of four commissioners, some of whom criticised its leader Trevor Phillips.

Earlier this year, a Commons report said its inception had been “patently flawed” and cost taxpayers almost £39 million.

In May, prime minister David Cameron promised a “bonfire of the quangos” designed to save billions of pounds of public money. Thousands of jobs are expected to be lost.

A similar list of 180 quangos to be abolished was sent to the BBC and the Cabinet has ordered an inquiry into the leaks.

A government spokeswoman did not comment on the leak but said the government had “made it clear that it is committed to radically increasing accountability and improving efficiency”.

She added: “The Cabinet Secretary has this morning asked for an immediate investigation into the leak of a government document on public bodies reform.

“We deeply regret any extra uncertainty for employees that this irresponsible leak has caused”.

A senior Whitehall source told the Daily Telegraph: “These reforms represent the most significant rolling back of bureaucracy and the state for decades.

“Our starting point has been that every quango must not only justify its existence but its reliance on public money.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Health are expected to suffer the most under Mr Cameron’s “bonfire of the quangos”.

Bodies said to be facing abolition are the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Health Protection Agency and the Commission for Rural Communities.

Ninety-four others are at risk of being scrapped, four will be privatised and 129 will be merged, the list suggests.

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