Government details ad spend criteria

Government departments will have to justify spending on marketing to a group of senior cabinet ministers under a new spending review framework aimed at reducing the deficit.

The Government will challenge all departmental spending, including advertising, which will be judged against a “tough new set of criteria”, the chancellor George Osborne has confirmed.

The criteria will be:

  • Is the activity essential to meet Government priorities?
  • Does the Government need to fund this activity?
  • Does the activity provide substantial economic value?
  • Can the activity be targeted to those most in need?
  • How can the activity be provided at lower cost?
  • How can the activity be provided more effectively?
  • Can the activity be provided by a non-state provider or by citizens, wholly, or in partnership?
  • Can non-state providers be paid to carry out the activity according to the results they achieve?
  • Can local bodies, as opposed to central Government, provide the activity?

The spending review framework document comes a week after a Central Office of Information (COI) communiqué that warned the coalition government is looking to achieve savings of around £160m in its marketing and communications expenditure.

The COI added that campaigns deemed “non-essential” must provide “unequivocal evidence” that they deliver measurable benefits relating directly to immediate public health and safety. The Government announced a freeze on non-essential marketing spend last month.

The Government is also encouraging “input from the brightest and best individuals” from the Government and the private sector to form a Spending Review Challenge Group “to act as independent challengers and champions for departments throughout the process”.

The consultation framework document comes ahead of the Government’s spending review, which will set out the Government’s spending plans for the next Parliament and set out departmental budgets for the years 2011-12 to 2014-15.

The Government plans to “engage and involve the whole country in the difficult decisions that will have to be taken” to reduce the £156bn deficit over the coming weeks.

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Marketing Week

No one should have been surprised by the leaked letter from the deputy chief executive of the Central Office of Information revealing 50% cuts to ad spend and further cuts in other areas. What is disappointing is that the coalition Government has set about cutting without engaging sector bodies to give independent advice and guidance on how to save money while protecting what is essential.

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