The budget for the year to March 2013 covers all Whitehall departments and marks the first time intended spend has been published. However, it is stressed in the “proactive communications plan” that “additional activities” in response to “new policy priorities” could inflate this figure.
The projected spend is up on the £168m spent through the COI in 2010/11, although departmental spend not channeled through the axed marketing services provider would likely increase that figure close to forecasted spend for current fiscal year.
Spend, however, is down significantly on the £532m spent through the COI under the previous Labour government.
The coalition froze marketing spend after taking office in 2010 and has spent the last two years developing a new framework for Whitehall communications. Changes include he closure of the COI, creation of cross-departmental communication hubs and centralised procurement.
Developments were all aimed at cutting the cost of marcomms and improving efficiency and accountability.
To this end, a new system for capturing monthly spend will be setup, the plan outlines, with the aim of creating a “robust baseline using a common dataset to allow changes in spend over time to be monitored and reported”.
Additionally, all activity will be required to have an evaluation plan agreed before it launches, “with clear responsibilities for sourcing data set out upfront”.
Consistent branding will also be introduced for all departments. Branding will feature the Royal Arms and the name of the department. The plan claims that the branding, developed in-house, will “reduce expenditure and increase public awareness of government activity”.