Department for Energy & Climate Change slashes comms spend

PRWeek can reveal that the Department for Energy & Climate Change has cut its comms budget by nearly 95 per cent since it came into existence, amid wider fears that the department is reducing its funding more than necessary.

Losing power: the department's comms budget for this year is £530k
Losing power: the department's comms budget for this year is £530k

The department, created in 2008 to deal with global warming, has seen its overall external budgets for comms drop from £10m in 2009-10 to £800,000 in 2011-12.

The figures, released by Freedom of Information as part of PRWeek's ongoing 'State of the Public Sector' series of reports, reveal that the planned overall external comms budget for this financial year is just £530,000.

The department has also reduced comms staff by 18 since 2010-11, from 43 down to 25.

The news comes as DECC has been forced to defend a £400m underspend in its overall budget from last year, after concerns were raised by some green businesses that the Government had cut back unnecessarily on climate change spending.

Futerra co-founder Ed Gillespie said: 'If the Government declines to talk publicly about the biggest collective challenge we have ever faced, i.e. climate change, that doesn't mean it goes away. Slashed comms budgets are clearly not about overspend, they are political, raising serious questions about commitment.'

Gillespie called on the Government to ‘actively and energetically’ promote the Government’s Green Deal initiative, suggesting it is at risk of failure by ‘disparate and dissolute communications’.

Forster director Peter Gilheany added that it is now up to green businesses and NGOs to ‘pick up the slack and start communicating much more passionately and engagingly’ with the public.

A DECC spokesman responded by stating: 'It should come as no surprise that we are focusing our resources where they are most needed and where they will have the most effect - that goes for comms too.

'Yes we've made cuts, as has the rest of Whitehall: this is part of the Government's drive to tackle the deficit and restore the public finances, but in reality the vast bulk of the DECC comms cut was accounted for by the end of a single marketing campaign (Act On Co2).'

Despite the cuts, press officer salaries have been boosted from £351,734 in 2011-12 to £433,149 in 2012-13.

The department has never used public relations agencies, although the biggest public information campaign handled by DECC has been its three-year ‘Act on Co2’ campaign, which cost £20.7m.

The department’s most senior comms officials are head of corporate comms Paul Dee and head of news Nick Turton, who both earn between £58,200 and £117,800.

Click here for more on PRWeek's 'State of the Public Sector' series

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Latest Articles

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

Max Clifford trial jury finishes sixth day of deliberations

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford on 11 charges of indecent assault has been sent home and will reconvene tomorrow morning for a seventh day of deliberations.

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Analysis: Fishburn chiefs keep eyes on future despite mounting departures

Fishburn's management have defended their reinvention of the 23-year-old agency amid industry mutterings, fed by a series of director-level departures, about the direction in which it is going.

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

Hit or Miss? EasyJet backs Shakespeare Day campaign with world record attempt

EasyJet aimed to break the world record for the highest ever theatrical performance for Shakespeare's 450th birthday yesterday with the Reduced Shakespeare Company performing on a flight from Gatwick to Verona.

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Top PRs to gather in Barcelona for inaugural PRWeek Global Congress

Senior executives from IBM, Nestlé, Vedanta, GE, Cargill, Philips and Allianz will be among the speakers at PRWeek's first Global Congress.