CSR part 3: the fate of the quangos
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment became an unexpected casualty of the CSR, after it was announced that drastic funding cuts at its sponsor department, the Department of Culture Media and Sport.
According to Building, housing minister, Grant Schapps is looking at handing some of its responsibilities to the Communities department.
CABE had a staff of 125, public funding of £11.5m and additional income of £3m. In a statement, CABE said: “The quality of housing, schools, streets and parks has a major impact on everyone’s life, every day. Indeed, the quality of your local neighbourhood matters even more in tough economic times. We are surprised to see that no resources at all can be found from the Culture programme to deliver the Government’s commitment to this area of public life.”
The organisation is now examining whether it can continue on a commercial basis, for instance by charging developers for design reviews, and clients for design advice.
Meanwhile Construction News reports that CITB-ConstructionSkills is not out of the woods yet. Last week, the quango issued an upbeat press release suggesting the government supported the mandatory training levy on construction firms.
However, the magazine quoted a spokesperson for the Department for Business Information and Skills saying that a third party could take over collection of the levy. A decision will be made in November.
Construction News also writes that a 35% cut to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE’s) budget might lead to fewer site visits for main contractors. Sources told the magazine that industry bodies will be encouraged to introduce self-regulation among their members.
A source told the magazine the change would “good news” for main contractors, who suffer a disproportionate number of visits from inspectors compared to their accident rates.
However, Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie, told Construction Enquirer that a reduction to the quango’s budget would lead to more construction deaths. “Any cuts in frontline services will inevitably lead to a greater number of workers being killed or injured at work. Sadly, the risks are greatest in safety critical industries such as construction,” he said.