House of Lords' comms budget rises

Despite public sector cuts, the House of Lords' comms budget has risen to more than £800,000 this year, amid debate over reforming the upper house.

The House of Lords
The House of Lords

The budget for the House of Lords information office, which covers the press team and web editing, has risen from £670,000 in 2008-09 to a predicted £820,000 in the current financial year.

The news comes as part of PRWeek's 'State of the Public Sector' series of reports into public sector comms spend, which last week revealed that the Department for Energy and Climate Change's budget has been cut by 95 per cent since its inception in 2008.

The House of Lords, which has a 12-strong comms team, recently spent £40,713 on an audience research project.

A House of Lords spokesman responded: 'By maintaining a vigilant approach to spending, the information office has consistently delivered its work within its budget.'

He added that the maintenance of a static marketing and comms budget had been achieved 'in the context of an increasingly large and more active House of Lords'.

The most senior comms official at the House of Lords is director of public information Benet Hiscock who is paid in the pay range £56,723 to £72,788.

The news comes as the future of the House of Lords hangs in the balance, with the issue of increasing the number of elected lords a bone of contention within the coalition. Earlier this month, a vote around the Lib Dem-favoured reforms was pulled amid a rebellion among Conservative MPs.

It has also emerged that there has been a dramatic rise in comms spending by the House of Commons in recent years. The budget for 2012-13 is £540,000, compared with £207,000 in 2008-09.

The Commons spent £14,000 on external PR support last year and plans to spend the same during the current financial year.

A Commons spokesman said the House of Commons 'attached great importance to broadening the accessibility of Parliament'.

How House of Lords comms spending has changed

Year Total comms spend Advertising spend Spend on agencies Comms staff  
2008-09 £670k £55k £0 11
2009-10 £775k £22k £113k 13
2010-11 £764k £15k £71k 12
2011-12 £817k £2k £0 13
2012-13 £820k £30k £15k 12

How House of Commons comms spending has changed

Year Total comms spend External PR support Agencies used Comms staff
2008-09 £207k £73k SCDodd Comms, Colman Getty (Big Ben) 9
2009-10 £393k £121k SCDodd Comms, Colman Getty (Big Ben) 10
2010-11 £383k £14k   13
2011-12 £544k £14k   13
2012-13 £540k £14k   13

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