Tories plan £200m cut in COI spending

Shadow Chancellor vows to slash the amount government departments spend on advertising

TheÂConservativeÂPartyÂis proposing to cut COI Communications’ £307.5m advertising and marketing budget by more than half and plans to spend the money on police, doctors, nurses and teachers.

Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin’s pledge to slash its budget by £200m comes in the same week as the Conservative Party launches its election manifesto.

In a statement exclusive to Marketing Week, he says: “[Prime Minister] Tony Blair is wasting £307m a year on advertising, sponsorship and other PR activities – nearly three times what was spent in 1997. Advertising has more than tripled over the same time period, increasing from £60m in 1997 to 1998 to £189m in 2003 to 2004. This is another example of how Mr Blair’s bloated government is spending and wasting taxpayers’ money.”

Letwin adds that the £307m would pay for 14,424 nurses, or 12,237 teachers, or 4,297 doctors, or 10,638 police, or 12,061 soldiers.

In the recent past, the Tories have warned that although the COI’s advertising spend decreased from £189m in 2003 to 2004 to £157.6m in 2004 to 2005, it is estimated to rise to £260m by 2008 if the Labour Party is re-elected.

Meanwhile, Conservative Party leader Michael Howard is the first of the main party leaders to launch his election manifesto. The Conservatives’ proposals include more police, tougher school discipline, immigration controls and anti-MRSA measures.

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