Design Council to lose public-body status and become a charity

The Design Council will lose its status as a Government-funded body and become an independent charity under plans to reform quangos.

The Cabinet Office says the Design Council will no longer be a non-departmental Government body, saying it will seek to establish the organisation as an independent charity, subject to Privy Council agreement.

The Design Council says it is to implement a new structure and operational plan in light of this decision.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which previously managed the funding of the Design Council, says, ’The innovative work of the Design Council… will continue and be enhanced by seeking a change in the status of [the] organisation from a public body into a private-sector charity.

’The Design Council would operate as an independent not-for-profit organisation incorporated by Royal Charter and continue to champion design as a driver of innovation and economic growth, working in close partnership with Government.’

The decision to change the Design Council’s status follows a review of the organisation conducted by Martin Temple, chairman of manufacturer the 600 Group and council member of the Design Council.

A statement from the Design Council says, ’The Design Council welcomes the findings of Martin Temple’s review and is working hard with its sponsor department, BIS, to implement its recommendations… It will continue to work as an independent organisation in close partnership with BIS to place design at the heart of society and the economy. This work will focus on three areas outlined in the review: design demonstration, knowledge networks and design policy advice to Government.’

The statement adds, ’The Design Council will continue to be financed through a combination of sources, as has been the case for the past few years. This includes reduced funding from Government, subject to the outcome of the spending review, and contracts with others, for example, with Government departments to act as an intermediary when commissioning complex public projects. These will be in strict accordance with the Design Council’s charitable objectives.’

The announcement comes as part of a Cabinet Office review process which has covered 679 NDPBs and 222 other statutory bodies across all Government departments. A total of 192 of these bodies will cease to be public bodies, 118 will be merged down into 57 bodies, and 171 are proposed for substantial reform while retaining their NDPB status.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, says, ’The landscape for public bodies needs radical reform to increase transparency and accountability, to cut out duplication of activity and to discontinue activities which are simply no longer needed.’

The changes to the quangos will come into force following the introduction of the Public Bodies Bill.

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