Cut government advertising spending in half – 4.5/5

Shortly before the last General Election, the TaxPayers’ Alliance produced a manifesto. Here is the latest in our series of posts looking at how the Coalition Government has performed in relation to our recommendations.

The full TaxPayers' Alliance manifesto can be found here. Click here to see the full series of posts.

The Central Office of Information announced in 2010 that it was shedding staff as "total COI turnover on advertising and marketing is down an estimated 52% in June this year, compared to the same period in 2009". That indicated that the Government was to cut spending on advertising almost exactly in half.

Since then, the Government has shut down the Central Office of Information, and the Cabinet Office has assumed responsibility for advertising and marketing. It has issued stricter guidelines and savings have been made.

Spending will increase this year, according to reports, which is not good news for taxpayers. The Election and the Scottish referendum are both factors in this but ideally a lid should be kept on this kind of spending.

Spending will be £289 million, which is down significantly from the £532 million-a-year budget of the Central Office of Information. But while posters like this continue to be put up on expensive billboards, it shows more taxpayers' money can be saved.

There have been steps to curb this spending in other areas of government too, most notably from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Council-run newspapers should now be published no more than once a quarter, according to guidelines. They are often called free-sheets but they are of course not free: taxpayers pay for them. Council press offices should not push out propaganda on the taxpayers’ tab. These publications further impact on local democracy by crowding out local press. 

Overall, some great steps have been taken to cut the advertising bill. Whoever forms the next government must ensure that it continues.