Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Watchdog bodies to be abolished

Mr Swinney said workers spent too long preparing for inspections

The number of watchdog bodies in Scotland is to be cut by at least a quarter, from 11 to five.

There are currently 29 audit, inspection and complaint agencies, employing 950 people and costing almost 60m a year.

Finance Secretary John Swinney told parliament this superstructure was disproportionate and needed to be cut.

Opposition parties have supported the changes but had wanted an estimate of how much money would be saved.

Mr Swinney told parliament that teachers, nurses, care workers, and council workers spend too much time preparing for the next inspection.

He said he wanted to cut the number of inspections and leave complaints to be handled as locally as possible.

There will now be a single inspection agency for the health service, Quality Improvement Scotland will be merged with the Mental Welfare Commission, and the Care Commission and the Social Work Inspectorate will also merge.

The Charity Appeals Panel will be abolished, along with Water Watch and the Prisoner Complaints Commission. Their functions will be taken over by the Public Services Ombudsman.

In all, Mr Swinney is reducing 11 scrutiny bodies to five - on top of the seven he has already abolished.

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