Quango spending on ‘communication’ soars

January 16, 2009 12:25 PM

New research from the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) details the steep rise in ‘communication’ spending among Britain’s quangos.

With the public deficit ballooning, quangos are spending more on expensive public and media relations departments. From a sample of 32 public bodies, information gained through the Freedom of Information Act shows that almost two thirds of British quangos have increased their ‘communication’ budgets by 24 per cent.

With the explosion of quangos over recent decades – at last count there were 1,162 public bodies, at a cost of £64 billion – this trend towards increased spending on ‘communication’ is unsustainable. While some of this increase is explicable, the increase suggests that too much taxpayers’ money is being diverted away from the job these quangos were set up to do. To read the full report, click here.

Key Findings

  • On average, quangos increased their spending on ‘communication’ by 24 per cent between 2006-07 and 2007-08.
  • The number of people employed in ‘communication’ rose by 11 per cent between 2006-07 and 2007-08.
  • Spending on communication increased at a faster rate than general administration budgets; for instance the running costs of the Charities Commission only increased by 7 per cent between 2006-07 and 2007-08, while spending on communication increased by 34 per cent.
  • Over a third of public bodies in the sample successfully reduced ‘communication’ budgets. Nearly the same amount cut the number of staff employed in ‘communication’.
  • Notably, the British Council provided information on just their Press and Parliamentary office, the cost of which was up 31 per cent from 2006-07 to over £680,000.  This shows that some quangos are spending considerable sums purely on PR and lobbying even when communications spending such as advertising is disregarded.

Ben Farrugia, Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers Alliance:

"Quangos should spend less time talking about what they are doing and more time doing the job that they are paid to do. Some quangos have legitimate reasons to spend on communication, but far too much goes on expensive public relations and spin. Given the size of the quango state, the UK taxpayer is footing an enormous and unnecessary bill for PR.

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