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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 09:34 GMT
London 'dominates quango boards'
Blackpool Tower
Blackpool is entirely unrepresented, says the report
The members of quangos responsible for nearly a quarter of all public spending are "grotesquely unrepresentative" of England, a think-tank says.

The New Local Government Network found that more quango members live in four London boroughs than the whole of the North of England.

It says quangos are responsible for spending more than 123bn a year.

The government says that people appointed to quango boards are chosen on merit alone.

We suspect that the poorer the area you live in, the less likely you are to climb to the heights of quango board membership
Chris Leslie
Report author

The New Local Government Network looked at 1,000 quango members and found that over half live in London and the south-east of England.

Many major cities outside the South East, such as Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, are under-represented, it says.

And about 20 areas, for example Blackpool and Swindon, are not represented at all.

Quangos are bodies such as the Environment Agency and the Student Loans Company, that are run at arms-length from central government, although they receive and spend taxpayers' money.

'Utterly unaccountable'

The report's author Chris Leslie said: "This highlights the scale and power held by quangos and the areas of the country who have the greatest sway over this power.

"While London and the counties immediately surrounding it are home to over half of all quango board members, there are in contrast, vast swathes of England with apparently no voice on our public bodies...

"We suspect that the poorer the area you live in, the less likely you are to climb to the heights of quango board membership."

Matthew Elliot from the Taxpayers' Alliance pressure group said the research showed that "quangos are utterly unaccountable, and run by unrepresentative and over-privileged bureaucrats."

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