According to the select committee, the Whitehall department responsible for ‘sponsoring’ the Gardens – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – frequently takes financial decisions that should instead be taken by Kew’s management. This prevents Kew from managing its affairs in a long-term strategic way and is, in the committee’s opinion, a “recipe for failure”. The committee draws comparisons with the Natural History Museum, sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which it states is “thriving, with far fewer restrictions on its budget from Government”. Both Kew and the Natural History Museum share ‘Executive Non-Departmental Public Body’ (NDPB) status; but as the Select Committee points out, this does not ensure that they receive equal treatment from government. As our report points out, this situation is not uncommon. In 2010, the Institute estimated that the UK had 11 different ‘types’ of arm’s-length body, of which Executive NDPBs were one. The diversity of this landscape led to confusion about roles and responsibilities between organisations, and to extreme variation in the way that departments managed their relationship with their ALBs. Organisations which share the same government ‘classification’ – and so are in theory the same type of organisation – […]

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