YJB to be scrapped in quango reform

The Youth Justice Board is to be scrapped as part of the government's "bonfire of the quangos" it was announced today, but the future of other social care public bodies remains uncertain. (Picture: Dominic's on flickr)

The Youth Justice Board is to be scrapped as part of the government’s “bonfire of the quangos” it was announced today, but the future of other social care public bodies remains uncertain.

Cabinet Office secretary Francis Maude published a list of quangos and changes that would be made to them in an effort to save money and improve accountability of ministers.

The YJB will be abolished because of wider criminal justice reforms. A statement is expected from the YJB and Ministry of Justice on the move later today.

The future of Cafcass is being considered by the Family Justice Review Panel as part of a full review of the family justice system, reporting in 2011.

The Children’s Workforce Development Council is under consideration. The document released by the Cabinet Office today said: “Options are being considered with an announcement being made before the end of 2010.”

The office of the Children’s Commissioner is still under review and a decision will not be made until the end of November.

However, Ofsted will remain on the grounds that it performs a technical function requiring impartiality. However, its inspection functions will be reformed “to increase proportionality and reduce burdens”.

The Care Quality Commission will also be retained.

The future of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, Skills for Care and the National Skills Academy for Social Care will be outlined in the Department of Health’s “vision statement” for social care, expected next month.

A spokesperson for the DH said last month that officials were considering possible reforms to the roles and funding of these bodies, which are not classified as quangos but receive £18m from the government each year.

In a written statement cabinet office minister Francis Maude said the government planned to reform 481 bodies.

Of these 192 will cease to be public bodies and their functions will either be brought back into government, devolved to local government, moved out of government or abolished altogether.

It also plans to merge 118 bodies down to 57, and to substantially reform a further 171.

The government will introduce a Public Bodies Bill to implement many of these plans.

Maude said: “We know that for a long time there has been a huge hunger for change. People have been fed up with the old way of doing business, where the ministers they voted for could often avoid taking responsibility for difficult and tough decisions by creating or hiding behind one of these quangos.”

However, he added: “There are of course organisations that will remain, although it is unlikely that any will be completely unchanged. This is because we recognise that some of these bodies do hugely important and essential work that has to be done at arm’s length from government, especially when political impartiality, independence or technical expertise is required.”

Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, commenting on the government’s announcement on quangos, said:

“Labour had a plan for steadily saving £0.5 billion by carefully closing 25% of quangos over the next few years.

“The Tories now need to tell us whether their desperation for headlines and faster cuts means the cost of closing quangos is actually bigger than the savings. And while they’re at it, they should tell us whether their manifesto commitment for 20 new quangos is now on ice.”

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly said the YJB had helped transform the delivery of youth justice and he acknowledged its role in reducing offending and re-offending by young people.

“Now is the right time to look more radically at the arrangement of youth justice, including the role of the YJB, ensuring that a dedicated focus on rehabilitation needs of young people is driven forward in the future.’

Frances Done, Chair of the Youth Justice Board, said while she was disappointed by the decision the YJB would work to transfer its functions to the Ministry of Justice.

“We have provided leadership to the youth justice system and overseen real progress, over the last few years, in significantly reducing the numbers of first time entrants to the youth justice system, reducing the frequency of re-offending and dramatically reducing the numbers of young people in custody – and at the same time making custody safer and more effective.”

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