Page last updated at 00:48 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 01:48 UK

Agencies branded 'waste of money'

Workers picking celery
Job creation is part of the remit for Regional Development Agencies

Quangos set up to improve the fortunes of the English regions have been branded a costly and ineffectual waste of money by a pressure group.

The Taxpayers' Alliance says local economies did better before Regional Development Agencies came into force.

The group claims RDAs have failed to reduce inequalities between regions and should be abolished.

But a government spokesman said RDAs had helped create 125,000 jobs since they were set up in 1999.

The development agencies were intended to boost the economic competitiveness of the nine English regions.

The spokesman said the bodies had attracted more than 8bn of investment and improved the performance of more than 250,000 businesses.

But a report by the Taxpayers' Alliance said the agencies had been a resounding failure.

'Core mission'

It said RDAs were "riddled" with waste and excess, including extravagant trips abroad, lavish conferences and "ludicrous" taxi expenses.

The pressure group claims they have cost 15bn - nearly 600 per household. If they were abolished, the saving could allow a 4p cut in corporation tax for small firms.

Ben Farrugia, policy analyst at the Taxpayers' Alliance, said RDAs had "failed in their core mission to narrow the gap between the economic performance of England's regions".

He said: "At a time when businesses are increasingly over-regulated and over-taxed, RDAs have become a symbol of wasteful bureaucratic excess.

"They should be abolished before the Government hands them even greater powers."

The Taxpayers' Alliance, which was set up in 2004, campaigns for smaller government and aims to give taxpayers a voice in the corridors of power.

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