Government increased comms spend by 20 per cent in pre-election year

Annual government spending on comms increased by nearly 20 per cent in the year running up to the general election, bucking the trend of cuts in this area since 2009/10.

The Cabinet Office announced last week that the Government Communications Service spent £330m per year less on proactive comms in 2014/15 than it did in 2009/10.

A GCS report in July last year showed annual spending on proactive comms was £589m in 2009/10, falling to £216m in 2012/13 and to £210m in 2013/14. Based on the Government’s claim that it cut £330m, the annual spend for 2014/15 then increased to £259m, bucking the general downward trend.

The Cabinet Office declined to confirm the 2014/15 figure but PRWeek understands that the uplift in that year was the result of campaigns such as GREAT, which promotes the UK as a trade and tourist destination and which has cost £113m since its launch in 2012, and the superfast broadband awareness campaign.

The Government said the overall reduction in spending on comms was a result of making its campaigns more effective.

It said that in had put in place policies to reduce spending, including spending controls, backing campaigns that provide return on investment and switching to low- and zero-cost channels such as digital and nudge techniques.

Alex Aiken, the executive director of government comms, said taxpayers’ money had been spent on "expensive and unnecessary" campaigns in the past and suggested the drive for efficiency would continue.

He added that the savings figures were "impressive", but said: "We won’t stand still. That’s why we recently released our communications plan for the year ahead that commits us to delivering further value for taxpayers' money and a more skilled, effective and focused service than ever before."

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