Whitehall press offices face cuts as Matt Tee leads wide-ranging savings review

PR supremo to work with COI to implement savings in departmental press offices.

Review: Matt Tee will work with the COI
Review: Matt Tee will work with the COI

Whitehall's most senior PR professional, Matt Tee, is to lead a wide-ranging review of government communications, PRWeek can reveal.

The move comes after the Prime Minister on Tuesday announced plans for £3bn of new efficiency savings, including £650m from marketing and management consultancy spend.

Tee will work with the Central Office of Information (COI) on the review, which could see the biggest departmental press offices drastically cut down to size.

Details of the review have not been made public, but PRWeek understands the key areas of scrutiny will include the size of press offices; the role of the COI; and external marketing spend, including use of PR agencies. The review will cover all government departments and quangos.

Gordon Brown has already outlined plans to merge or abolish 123 government 'arms length bodies'. The PM also plans to halve Whitehall spending on consultancy, and reduce spending on marketing by a quarter.

A Cabinet Office spokesman confirmed that the COI could increase its monopoly of Government comms activity.

The spokesman said: 'We will rationalise marketing frameworks across Government and aggregate more activity through the COI. This will give us a better understanding of spend to produce savings while supporting improved effectiveness, planning and evaluation of government communication.'

One former government communications chief expressed concern about the prospect of PR budgets being slashed, and called for advertising to take the heat.

Luther Pendragon partner Mike Granatt said: 'It's bad news for the profession. It will give more impetus to the Government to employ less specialised staff. The big money should be taken from the advertising budget.'

WHAT COULD BE HIT?

There are 309 press officers in Government. The most heavily staffed departments are Health (32), Work and Pensions (49) and the Ministry of Justice (35)

The COI spent £41m on PR and news management in 2008/09, more than 50 per cent up on the previous year

Education and Health were mostly responsible for the growth in PR spend (Source: COI).

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

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

John Lewis to tell brand story with "tasteful" 150th anniversary celebrations

Department store John Lewis is to use its 150th anniversary this year to talk about its history, which "not enough people know about", according to director of communications Peter Cross.

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

Labour hires Obama election strategist David Axelrod to fight General Election

The man who helped Barack Obama win the 2008 and 2012 US presidential elections is to work for Labour along with members of his team.

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Sky adds Fever PR to its roster after splitting with Cake

Pay-TV giant Sky has added Fever PR to its agency line-up for a wide-ranging brief covering products and services.

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

Max Clifford trial jury to continue deliberations after Easter break

The jury in the trial of celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been sent home for Easter and will reconvene on Tuesday for further deliberations about its verdicts on 11 charges of indecent assault.

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

Home Office brings in Munro & Forster to campaign against FGM

The Home Office has tasked Munro & Forster (M&F) with supporting its campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) as part of a wider retained brief.