Public Sector: Comms cutbacks under way

Departments finalise details of changes to comms teams.

Government departments are considering how to make cuts to their comms teams after calls to slash comms budgets by £2.5m across Whitehall.

The Department for International Development (DfID) is anticipating losing 11 posts out of 56. This will contribute towards a 20 per cent cut in its central comms division during this financial year.

The department is expecting to lose a further 13 per cent in funding over the subsequent three years, which is likely to reduce the headcount to below 40.

Despite DfID's budget being ringfenced, the corporate side of the department is being asked to make significant savings over the four-year spending review period.

The reductions will arise from a combination of posts frozen in anticipation of cuts and the departure of a series of people working out fixed-term contracts.

Further streamlining is expected from DfID's policy teams and comms officers in its network of overseas offices.

The news comes as many government departments are considering signing up brand partners to help them get around the current freeze on all external marketing spend.

This would follow the Change4Life model, where major businesses such as Tesco and Unilever are backing the Department of Health's anti-obesity campaign.

One government comms director said: 'A lot of departments are asking themselves "what are our options?" But if you get other people to argue for you, then that creates propriety issues.'

Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has cancelled four freelancers as part of overall in-year savings of £55m, as outlined by Foreign Secretary William Hague.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'Ministers have been clear that their first priority is to tackle the budget deficit. All departments will be making savings over the next comprehensive spending review period.'

HOW I SEE IT - JAMES SHELLEY, HEAD OF NEWS, MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

While it's true that we in MoD comms, like the rest of the departments, are looking to make savings in our running costs, and have furthermore presented a number of options to achieve this, no final decisions have yet been taken.

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