Friday, October 03, 2008

The self-serving industry

Over on The Times, Melanie Reid lashes out at the drug rehab industry.

This year's award for Least Impressive Interviewee on National Radio goes to Paul Hayes, head of the Government's drugs treatment agency. Yesterday, on the Today programme, he inadvertently revealed one of the reasons why drug addiction remains a blight.

Mr Hayes, CEO of the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, was jobsworth personified: complacent, patronising and absolutely unable to explain why only 3 per cent of the 200,000-plus addicts are cured each year.

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) is one of those wonderful bodies which have become lumped together into the group known as "quangos". Here is the blurb from their own website ....

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) is a special health authority within the NHS, established by Government in 2001 to improve the availability, capacity and effectiveness of treatment for drug misuse in England.

Actually, it's quite nice to have someone acknowledge the fact that England is a nation in its own right - but leaving that aside, it reveals the nature of these quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations. Most quangos are set up to deal with a specific issue - in the case above, substance misuse.

Actually, that title in itself is revealing - "substance misuse"? Could that include providing assistance for people who insist on polishing their floor with cold cream? The agency is actually supposed to help junkies get off their particular poison, but calling your agency "The National Treatment Agency for Getting Junkies Off The Illegal Filth They Poison Themselves With" carries all sorts of value judgements.

Anyway, the point I'm supposed to be making is this. The government sets up these agencies to deal with a specific issue. They appoint a "CEO" - often some mate of a minister - pay them a big fat wad of cash, give them a nice office and a fancy car to swan around in, a budget often running into tens or even hundreds of millions of taxpayer pounds and the ability to hire more of their mates and family as "staff" and off they go to deal with the issue.

Well the last thing that person is going to do is come back and say "actually you're wasting your money, you don't need this agency, we don't achieve anything and you'd be better off spending the money elsewhere".

Quangos are self-justifying. Whether the problem they are set up to address is real or not, they will never ever solve the problem as that would end a very cushy number for a lot of people. As Melanie Reid notes .....

Fact is, harm reduction drug strategies have become a self-serving, self-perpetuating state industry.

Yep, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The quangocracy squanders around £130 billion of taxpayers money a year - more than the NHS - and much much more than the military.

Think about that for a minute.

Think how that money could have paid for vehicles to protect our soldiers from improvised mines in Afghanistan rather than ferrying some hundreds of overpaid jobsworths around in taxpayer funded Mercs.

Think about those people deprived of life improving drugs while the CEOs of various quangos fly off to various conferences - no doubt in first class - in various exotic locations.

Think about the schoolkids making do without proper gym equipment or relying on parent donations while the quangocracy spends billions on new cars, new offices and more staff.

Quangos are the scandal of our times. The self-serving industry of the public sector - unelected, unaccountable and unchecked. They gobble up more taxpayer pounds than anything else and the return on our investment is smaller than it is in any other part of our public services. They are self-perpetuating and self-justifying.

Whenever someone suggests tax cuts, the lefties always counter with the "what about public services?" argument - and most people, when they think of public services think of bin collection, police, fire and so on, but the bulk of "public services" consist of quangos.

I believe we could live with considerably fewer and not notice any impact on "pubic services" other than an improvement on those we really need.

1 comment:

This Royal Throne of Kings said...

Well said again, Stan.

I've been planning a post on the quango scandal myself for some time. it seems to me that they are simultaneously undemocratic, unaccountable, self-perpetuating and ruinously expensive.

The next government should set about making a bonfire of as many of them as possible at its earliest opportunity.