Categories
Communications disease National politics

Ads hit half billion for second year

When the country is going to the bad at a rate of £155 billion per annum, or roughly £5K per worker per year, it is a relief to find an area of government spending where you can happily slice out some hundreds of millions and stop bugging people too. Last year all of those irritating, hectoring government commercials reminding you to pay your TV licence and tell the revenue that your circumstances have changed cost £532 million. This was admittedly down from previous year’s record of £540 million, see the annual report of the Central Office of Information published today here.

Gordon “end of spin” Brown managed to spend £1 billion in two years puffing himself and all of his works. In the Major years government ad spending was more like £100 million per annum, you can see all of the histrorical figures here (scroll down to bottom).

According to this year’s annual report:

A general election was called in April 2010 and the majority of government marketing and communications was halted during the election period. The new Government, formed in May, implemented an immediate freeze on government advertising and marketing spend.

Government will continue to commission campaigns this year, but only where there is an essential need to do so. Exceptions will require approval from relevant directors of communications or from the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, depending on the budget.

That is what I voted for! At last some sanity.

Categories
Communications disease

Milliband’s £80K logo

The Mail on Sunday are reporting today that the FCO have just spent £80K updating their logo. It is the kind of story that reassures you that government spending can be controlled without culling teachers and nurses. Sure we will all feel sorry for the logo designers having to go hungry but not that sorry.

Categories
Communications disease National politics

Reforming Parliament, start with the cash stupid

Today the News of the World has a shock, horror piece about a £17K lift attendant at Parliament. They say:

Incredibly, our pampered politicians are looking for a hired flunky to actually push the buttons for them in the House of Commons elevator.

And the fact they’ll pay £17,277 a year, plus perks, out of taxpayers’ money to do it last night sparked an almighty row.

You can see the job ad here.

Apparently there are four “lift attendants”. I think the News of the Screws may have hit the wrong target though – apparently these guys have a role escorting visitors around for security reasons. It would be strange to have Parliament unattended given the security you might want to see there. But, the problem with Parliament is that it is unscrutinised. Seeing itself as sovereign it thinks it can do what it likes and does not need to weigh priorities and cut its cloth like the rest of us.

A much more dodgy job as is this one one for a House of Lords press person – £30K for a 20 hour week with 35 days paid holiday. Where do you get that kind of gig in the private sector? The only way the House of Lords is ever going to look good is if the lords stop stealing from us (Uddin & co you know who you are). No number of overpaid fluffy comms people are going to trump that kind of behaviour. This is a total waste of money.

The total bill for Parliament last year was £516 million or, to put it another way the cost of running five district general hospitals the size of Ealing. See House of Commons figures here and house of Lords figures here. MPs direct pay and allowances are £242K per head and they cost £633K per head all in.

The Tories are talking about shaving this bill 10%, see here. I reckon you could take 40% out, see here. The figure of 40% is a bit arbitary but if you run an organisation with no real cost control pressures for many decades halving its spending should be a doddle. I figured 40% gave me some room for error! If you are reading David I would do the job for free. Give me two years max.

Categories
Communications disease

Even the BBC has spotted Brown’s 43% comms surge

It was good to see that the BBC has finally picked up on the story that under Gordon “end of spin” Brown government ad spending went up 43% last year. The package above was shown on the Politics Show this lunchtime.

I picked up the story in July last year. The Telegraph spotted it in January of this year.

The main figure is straight from the Central Office of Information annual report, here. The image below is the key table from page 6, click to enlarge.

You can use old annual reports on the COI website to build up a history of their spending back to 1993. I published this graph in July last year when the figures came out.

coi-spending-2009

As you can see Gordon Brown has eclipsed even the Blair governments’ propensity to spin. Brown’s “end of spin” claim is just another of his lies. There is clearly no John Major pre-election splurge in 1997. On the other hand you can see two Blair election peaks in 2001 and 2005 and then when Brown gets his hands on government it all goes crazy in the run up to the election that never was in autumn 2007 and on. There really is not a good reason why you couldn’t take at least £300 million out of this budget – that is what it costs to run three hospitals the size of Ealing’s.

Categories
Communications disease

Gazette takes its share

The wall of government money being thrown at the media as a part of Gordon Brown’s £540 million “end of spin” campaign is trickling its way down to our own local media. This Friday the Ealing & Acton Gazette carried the following large display ads:

1/3 page DWP – Build a better future
1/3 page HMRC – Tell tax credits your news
2/3 page Community Payback – Have your say
Full page – WRAP – Love food hate waste

The last one is particularly pernicious as it is not government branded and has a .com domain name.

Categories
Communications disease

Gordon’s 43% comms surge

Today the Telegraph is reporting that the Tories have been complaining about the government’s use of its own advertising budget and its incredible 39% growth from 2007/8 to 2008/9 from £168 million to £232 million.

These figures are straight from the Central Office of Information annual report, here. The image below is the key table from page 6, click to enlarge.

I don’t know why the Tories are not pointing to the whole COI bill which leapt 43% from £377 million to £540 million last year. I don’t see that digital marketing or interactive services for instance are any less pernicious than straight advertising. It is all communications and there is too much of it from this government.

You can use old annual reports on the COI website to build up a history of their spending back to 1993. I published this graph in July last year when the figures came out.

As you can see Gordon Brown has eclipsed even the Blair governments’ propensity to spin. Brown’s “end of spin” claim is just another of his lies. There is clearly no John Major pre-election splurge in 1997. On the other hand you can see two Blair election peaks in 2001 and 2005 and then when Brown gets his hands on government it all goes crazy in the run up to the election that never was in autumn 2007 and on. There really is not a good reason why you couldn’t take at least £300 million out of this budget.

coi-spending-2009

Categories
Communications disease Ealing and Northfield

Local MPs “communicating”

I have seen various reports lately complaining about Labour MPs using their £10K a year Communications Allowance to promote themselves. As I reported on Tuesday Andrew Slaughter doesn’t like the Conservatives spending their own money to win your vote but he is quite happy to spend your money doing the same thing. According theyworkforyou.com he spent almost all of his £10K last year, £9,899 leaving £101 unspent.

Ian Gibb, the Conservative candidate for Ealing North, has been unimpressed with Stephen Pound’s latest missive, paid for by you, which talks about how good he has been with expenses but fails to admit that last year he spent £9,854 leaving £146 unspent.

This week Iain Dale also has stories of a Labour minister and an ex-Labour minister using the Communications Allowance to campaign against their own government’s health policy.

When this matter was voted on by Parliament all but two Conservative MPs voted against it. Those two have since left the party. The Conservatives are committed to doing away with the Communications Allowance.

Categories
Communications disease Ealing and Northfield National politics

Slaughter doesn’t like it up him

For all of those of a certain age you will remember the catch phrase of Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones: “They don’t like it up ’em!”.

Andrew Slaughter, who will represent a bit of our borough until the last possible minute, is complaining today about his opponent in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush, the excellent Shaun Bailey. According the the Times today the Bailey campaign has outspent him. No doubt when Slaughter voted for the Communications Allowance he thought he was voting to keep his job forever with a £10K a year incumbents self-promotion allowance paid for by taxpayers. At least the cash the Tories are spending is their own money.

We know Slaughter is a bit of a chicken because he didn’t go for the Central Ealing and Acton consituency and has instead left the boy Mahfouz to stand against the redoutable Angie Bray. Angie will make a great MP, and eat Mahfouz for breakfast as she would have done Slaughter.

Meanwhile Slaghter got himself selected to fight the Hammermsith and Shepherds Bush seat to the east. I have seen Bailey in action a couple of times – he is very impressive. A straight talking, local lad made good who has practical ideas and bags of experience of the social issues of that part of London. He is backed by the incredibly enthusiastic Hammersmith Tories. Slaughter is right to be frightened but it is not the money that will unseat Slaughter, it is 13 years of poor Labour government and a much better alternative locally as well as nationally.

Here is Bailey’s video which is the source of one of Slaughter’s complaints. Slaughter could do the same and distribute it virally for next to nothing – the trouble is that Slaughter just would not have come across as well as Bailey does. Bye, bye Andy!

Categories
Communications disease Health, housing and adult social services

NHS ad spending was £56 million last year, twice previous year

On Tuesday a ministerial statement was put out by Minister of State, Department of Health, Phil Hope, correcting five years worth of written answers on the subject of NHS advertising, see here. Apparently £56.43 million was spent by the NHS on advertising last year, about double the total of each of the preceding four years. The largest amount was £23.38 million spent on tobacco related campaigns.

The figures exclude production costs, COI fees (see previous post) and VAT. They exclude all the comms staff and glossy annual reports. They exclude management meetings where the aesthetics of these ads are discussed. We can safely assume that NHS communications spending is some hundreds of millions of Pounds.

Hat tip: Dizzy Thinks

Categories
Communications disease

Government ads jump 43% to £540 million

coi-spending-2009

In recent years I have been tracking government spending on advertising by looking at the turnover of the government’s Central Office of Information (COI). The COI was formed in 1946 out of the remnants of the wartime Ministry of Information. Their mission statement is sure to make you reach for your gun:

COI is the Government’s centre of marketing and communications excellence. It helps government departments and the public sector meet their policy objectives through procurement and delivery of marketing and communications services that achieve maximum effectiveness and best value for money.

The COI aggregates government spending on advertising and makes good sense in terms of getting value for money by buying centrally. As a side effect it shows up just how much the state spends on big advertising campaigns. They published their annual report today and in the last financial year they charged their government customers £540 million, up 43% from the previous year.

In the past I had thought that the doubling and trebling of government advertising under Tony Blair was bad enough but it seems that Gordon Brown’s government is just out of control. If anyone doubts that Gordon Brown is set on a scorched earth policy, driving the public finances into the dust in the hope that the Tories take the blame for his fiscal laxness when they take power next year and have to deliver the strong medicine, this graph is all the proof you need.