The Central Office of Information has drawn up a shortlist of three for a £2m account to promote small business centres. The pitch comes as Government figures reveal that Whitehall has spent more than £130m on advertising over the past five years, although its total spend is tailing off.
The Business Link network, a Department of Trade and Industry initiative, is scheduled to have 250 centres by the end of the year.
EURO RSCG Wnek Gosper, Grey London and Bartle Bogle Hegarty will pitch for the business within the next two months.
The new advertising expenditure figures were revealed by Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce, who has bombarded Government departments with questions designed to discover the total expenditure on all forms of advertising since 1979. Most of them have only been able to provide figures going back to 1989, but they show a gradual fall in spending in recent years.
The Department of the Environment spent £4.4m last year, compared to £24.6m five years ago, and more than £6m in 1993. Department of Health advertising has fallen from almost £9m in 1990, to about £4m this year.
The Department of Trade & Industry also records a big fall in spending, from £13m five years ago to less than £1m last year.
Advertising by the Treasury on privatisation programmes has declined because most public sector industries have now been sold off.
Based on the answers given by six Government departments, advertising spending by central government has declined from £55m in 1990 to about £16m last year.