Monday, November 27, 2006

The cost of Regional Assemblies

Whilst we may not have directly elected Regional Assemblies in the UK we do have Regional Assemblies none the less. They are usually made up of councillors from within the region and expenses and allowances are paid to the senior positions. For example, the Chair of the South East Regional Assembly receives approximately 12K, in addition to his salary as Leader of Oxfordshire County Council.

Now you may be wondering what these organisations do. Having spoken with a few Communications departments this morning it would appear that the answer is not very much. Largely they write documents that form part of the "debate". One of the websites says, they're "a leading player in the region with a 'voice'" (those are their quote around voice not mine).

The large majority of their funding comes from central Government, specifcally the Department of Communities and Local Government. Having done a little search the total amount from the DCLG is just short of £20 million a year. The scary thing is that nearly 50% of all that money is spent on salaries and member allowances. Just for reference:
Yes I know this is not a particularly interesting story, but that's £20m being spent on bodies that appear to exist outside the system. They're not democratically mandated, but they're not quangos either, they just are, and they cost quite a tidy sum too. Purely as an aside one of the people I spoke to at one of the regional assemblies called the central Government pot the money comes from a "slush fund" which was funny.

N.B. London has been left out.


skipper said...

As a(not especially distinguished) political scientist, I found this very interesting and a useful tit-bit to throw into my forthcoming lectures on devolution. So thanks.

Disillusioned and Bored said...

Just another example of outrageous waste. Forget road charging, the government could save a fortune by stripping out these ludicrous levels of government.

Anonymous said...

It was the chairman of, I think, the South East Regional Assembly who boasted (in the Times) that (although the Assembly he chaired was a collection of useless pillocks who do bugger all*) the Assembly was excellent value since it "only" cost 50p per year for each person in the South East Region.

*he didn't actually say this but it's true nevertheless.