Cabinet Office unveils public trust strategy

The Cabinet Office has unveiled its long-awaited programme to restore public trust in government.

'Engage' will provide Whitehall's 3,400 PR practitioners with training seminars and best practice case studies.

The programme responds to the 2004 Phillis Review into government communications, ordered after Department for Transport adviser Jo Moore suggested that 9/11 was a 'good day to bury bad news'.

It champions the values of 'integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity', in a concerted attempt to gain distance from perceived spin.

Engage co-creator Sheila Mitchell said it had been 'designed to level out varying PR competencies across different departments'.

But the announcement provoked a mixed reaction from the industry. Former D-G of the Government Information and Communications Service Mike Granatt cautioned: 'Making this work will need the co-operation, ownership and patience of senior civil servants and ministers, who have failed on that score too often in the past.'

Former DCMS director of comms Siobhan Kenny said: 'I wish this had been in place when I joined government. It is the first time anything so detailed has been done about communications.'

The initiative will encourage more use of direct communication with the public, such as through text messaging and direct mail.
'This is a professionalisation agenda to make comms more strategic and brings it closer to policy,' said permanent secretary for communications Howell James.

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