Issues such as obesity, smoking, climate change and the recession pushed spending up 43% year on year in the 12 months to the end of March, the centralised communications centre reported in its annual report.

Spend on advertising alone jumped by 35% to £211m in the year that saw the launch of high profile campaigns such as the Department of Health’s anti-obesity drive Change4Life.

The COI says the enormous leap in spend has also been driven by increased centralisation of spend by government departments.

It adds that the figures also reflect the Government’s move to follow audiences online – digital marketing spend grew by 84% to a total £40m during the year.

Recently anointed chief executive Mark Lund says the leap has been driven by national concerns. “The need for Government to communicate with the public is greater than ever as society faces challenges such as obesity, climate change and the recession.

“Changing behaviour is difficult by the benefits to the taxpayer and society can repay the investment many times over,” he adds.