The coalition government has published its Government Communication Plan and it’s planning to spend £289m on ‘proactive communications’ in 2014/15, a whopping 22 per cent increase on the £237m spent in 2013/14.
And 2015 is General Election year in the UK – could these two events be, by any chance, related?
Government ad spending is supposed to be strictly non-party political but we all know that such efforts inevitably plug the achievements of the governing party and its policies. The only surprise about this budget hike – from a government that’s still supposed to be enforcing austerity – is that it’s so brazen.
The three key communications themes are: ‘economic confidence, fairness and aspiration and Britain in the world.’ And that’s not political? Do we need our taxes spent telling us this?
The first refers to a cross-departmental campaign focusing on the Government’s long-term plan to reduce the deficit. The second, to bringing together people from different parts of the Government to explain how society is being made fairer; while the third is about supporting the Government’s communications efforts abroad.
There’s also some stuff in the announcement about the role of the GCS Corporate Support Service, which will be based in the Cabinet Office, to help departments strip waste and encourage innovation. Which sounds pretty political too.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude (left) says: “We’re reforming government communications to ensure our civil servants have the skills required for tomorrow’s world and that their work is effective, delivering best value for hard-working taxpayers.
“Before the last General Election, there was no central control on spend on advertising, marketing and communications. We introduced controls which helped save £378 million in 2012/13 alone.”
Executive director of government communications Alex Aiken says: “Major events such as the centenary of the First World War and the referendum on Scottish independence will demand the best of communicators in government.”
Does that mean some help for the anti-independence campaign? Don’t think that’s allowed either Alex.
What a nerve.