Government closes IP and WEEE quangos

The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property policy (SAPIB) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Body (WAB) will be closed, it has been announced.

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The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property policy (SAPIB) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Body (WAB) will be closed, it has been announced.

The announcement comes as part of a Whitehall plan to reduce the number of public bodies.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “I have already said that I want to reduce the number of these bodies by a third. This is the latest phase of that work.

“By bringing functions back into government, we make their activities more accountable and can reduce the considerable administrative costs that they place on the taxpayer.”

However, a spokesperson for waste charity Waste Watch, which has a representative at the WAB, was taken aback by the news.

“We are surprised and disappointed to hear that the WEEE Advisory Body (WAB) will be disbanded this September,” the spokesperson said.

"In our view, the decision to close this body, which is staffed by volunteers, runs completely counter to the government’s Big Society agenda."

The functions of WAB will be passed to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), while the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will take on SABIP’s functions, which includes integrating SAPIB’s research programme into the IPO’s research work.

SABIP was established on 2 June 2008 following a recommendation in the December 2006 Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. Its aim was to advise the government and the IPO on the development of IP policy. It received annual funding of £850,000 from the IPO, and the closure is expected to help the IPO save around £300,000.

IT industry body Intellect welcomed the merger of SABIP into IPO.

Jenifer Carlton, senior programme manager with responsibility for IP Intellect, said: "The UK-IPO seems to be a logical place to advance the work started by SABIP.

"Going forward, Intellect sees this as a valuable opportunity for the UK-IPO to draw more on the wealth of knowledge and experience among IP experts in the user community, and to cover all aspects of IP, not just copyright.”

Meanwhile, the WAB was created on 3 December 2007, and members were appointed to the body independently to represent particular areas of expertise relevant to the WEEE Regulations. A spokesperson for the Department of BIS said that the body's closure will save the government department £10,000 a year.

However, Waste Watch said that BIS has "grossly misrepresented the cost of the WAB" because members contribute their time and expertise for free, and the chair person receives a "small gratuity".

In addition, Cable announced the closure of the SITPRO (Simplifying International Trade) and the British Shipbuilders Corporation, bringing the total number of public bodies to be closed so far to 17. Thirteen public bodies, including the Institute for Learning and the Learning & Skills Improvement Service, were closed in May.

Further quango cuts are expected to be announced in the Spending Review this autumn.

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