Magazine article Public Finance

Plan to Supersize Audit Commission

Magazine article Public Finance

Plan to Supersize Audit Commission

Article excerpt

The Liberal Democrats are airring to slash the number of public sector inspectorates and load their responsibilities on to the Audit Commission.

Ed Davey, who shadows the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for the LibDems, told Public Finance that the party's election manifesto would include a commitment to merge nine existing inspection bodies into one.

'We think the Audit Commission is the most independent and capable of the inspection agencies. We want to give it [inspection] all to the best,' he said, talking on March 5 at the Liberal Democrats' spring conference in Harrogate.

Under the LibDem proposals, the Audit Commission would take on the functions currently performed by Ofsted, the Adult Learning Inspectorate, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection, the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate, the Housing Corporation and the Fire Service Inspectorate.

Davey said the criminal justice inspectorates would remain independent in the medium term.

The new LibDem policy goes much further than current government thinking in this area. Ministers are widely expected to back plans to replace the existing plethora of inspectorates with four key bodies focused on education and children, health and social care, criminal justice and local government. …

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