COI letter spells out severe spending cuts

The COI has warned PR agencies that environmental, healthy lifestyle and arts briefs could be kicked into the long grass in the coming year.

Change4Life: could be at risk
Change4Life: could be at risk

The latest move in the Government's austerity drive took place last Wednesday, when the COI issued a letter to all its rostered agencies warning that advertising and media spend would be cut by 50 per cent.

The letter, from COI deputy chief executive Peter Buchanan, went on to stipulate that only the following briefs would go ahead: 'Where the Government has a duty to provide people with information, e.g, changes to legislation or public services; where providing the public with information is critical to the effective running of the country, e.g, information about paying taxes, recruitment of armed forces; or where there is unequivocal evidence that campaigns deliver measurable benefits relating directly to immediate public health and safety.'

The letter suggests that programmes designed to effect medium-term changes, such as cutting carbon emissions, parent engagement with schools and healthy lifestyles, will be axed.

In addition, Kinross + Render co-founder Sara Render pointed to business-related briefs and the arts as areas that would be hit hard in the future.

She said: 'The problem with (all) these kind of programmes is you don't get fast results and there are so many different influences at work it is difficult to strip out PR-based results.'

Blue Rubicon managing director Gordon Tempest-Hay suggested the cuts would be even more far-reaching: 'The effects will be felt in virtually every department.'

Linstock Communications director Jon Bennett warned: 'If the letter gets taken too literally, savings today could cost us dearly inthe future.'

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