In a speech at the London School of Economics, shadow chancellor George Osborne claimed that spending on advertising and tax credits for people earning more than £50,000 would be the first budgets to be cut under a new government, calling them “poor value for money” and “excessive”.
He told the audience: “Everyone knows the government’s spending plans for next year are driven by a looming General Election and not economic reality. So, with the date of the general election increasingly likely to be after the beginning of the next financial year, that means we will need to make early in-year reductions in existing plans.
“Programmes that represent poor value for money, excessive spending on things like advertising and consultants, spending on tax credits for people earning over £50,000, and spending on child trust funds for better off families will all have to be cut during the financial year.”
Last weekend, party leader David Cameron confirmed the party planned to spend £18m – the legal limit on election campaigning – but said the Central Office of Information, which he described as “the government’s advertising arm”, had a £500m budget, implying that it was irresponsible.
“The government is spending vast amounts of money. They have got more spin doctors, more advisers, more press officers than they have ever had. So I think the money we are spending is responsible,” he said.
On Tuesday, he went on to warn marketers, advertisers and shops to “show more restraint in the way they operate” when marketing to children, or face further regulation.
However, leading marketing figures have hit back at these claims. They argue that ministers are being misled by a series of bogus reports and are failing to fully comprehend advertising law.