Quangos blasted as a 'waste of money'.
By DAVID POWELL Daily Post Reporter email@example.com THE number of bodies set up by the Welsh Government in a time of austerity has been criticised.
A senior councillor raised the issue of quangos and how much they cost, and yesterday an Assembly Member slammed quangos as "unaccountable".
But the Welsh Government defended its record, saying the number of them - 33 - has gone down since 1999.
The issue of quangos (quasi autonomous non-governmental organisations) came up as Conwy's full council debated pressures on budgets, reluctantly agreeing a 5% council tax rise.
In the debate, Independent councillor Philip Evans, Conwy's Cabinet member for governance and regulation, asked: "Have Assembly Members asked how many quangos the Welsh Assembly has set up? "They all need staff. They are like a sort of alternative government (yet) what are Assembly Members for?" Janet Finch-Saunders, Welsh Conservative Aberconwy AM, also queried the number of quangos.
She said: "Since I became an Assembly Member I have been amazed by the number of quangos and review commissions that the (Welsh) Government set up.
"There's an awful lot of duplication, I've seen more money wasted in the four years I've been an AM than in my whole working life."
Mrs Finch-Saunders also pointed out that unlike politicians quango members are unelected.
She said: "People like the chairmen of health boards are all unelected but on fabulous salaries."
The Welsh Government defended itself when asked how many quangos - which it calls Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies - it had set up.
A spokesman said "The total number of Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies (WGSB) has decreased since 1999.
"However, WGSB's operate at arms' length and still have an important role to play in supporting the delivery of the Welsh Government's Programme for Government."
In 1999 when the Welsh Assembly was set up there were 38 Welsh Government Sponsored Bodies (previously known as Assembly Sponsored Bodies). In 2014, there were 33.
The latest, an organisation called Qualifications Wales, is due to become operational as an executive body in September 2015, subject to legislation.