Government to open up advertising accounts from past two years

A detailed breakdown of Government advertising spending over the past two years is to be released by the Treasury for the first time as part of an openness drive.

The data will be released from the Combined On-line Information System – known as Coins – a database containing HM Treasury’s detailed analysis of departmental spending under thousands of category headings databases. The database has codes for more than 1,700 public bodies in the United Kingdom, including all the central government departments and the government’s advertising body the Central Office of Information (COI).

The move comes after Prime Minister David Cameron demanded for the data to be released by all Whitehall departments, after the previous government blocked the data from publication, despite frequent freedom of information requests.

The Prime Minister said he wanted to remove the “cloak of secrecy” from official information in a bid to restore public trust in politics and allow them to be used by experts.

Other moves will see Government contracts over £10,000 published on a single website from September with items of central government spending over £25,000 and local government over £500 shortly afterwards.

The Treasury describes Coins as “a web based multi-dimensional database used by HM Treasury to collect financial information.”

Earlier this week, the COI warned that Government advertising expenditure could fall “by at least 50%” during this financial year with only essential campaigns unaffected.

Essential marketing campaigns were defined as those that provide people with information such as changes to legislation or public services or information that is deemed critical to the effective running of the country. All other campaigns must provide “unequivocal evidence” that they deliver measurable benefits relating directly to immediate public health and safety.

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