Press reaction to the Chancellor’s public sector spending cuts last week was predictably, perhaps even confusingly, varied.
The Daily Mail talked of the “huge economic risk” George Osborne has taken, the Telegraph of the impact on Britain’s sharp elbowed middle classes, while The Guardian’s dramatic headline read: “Axe falls on the poor”.
What is clear, with 490,000 less public sector employees and £81bn less to be spent, is that Government departments and local authorities will have to start doing more with less, or at the very least the same.
A notion marketers in the private sector have had to and in some cases still have to address in the post-recessionary environment.
When the axe fell on budgets after the financial earthquake that hit two years ago and continues to tremor to this day, those marketers still in employment took stock of their marketing mix and strategy and as mums in a different age of austerity might have said “made do and mended”.
The economic environment focussed the boardrooms’ minds on targeting, accountability and ROI, which, in turn, led to direct mail, PR and partnership marketing coming to the fore.
Budgets were cut but smart companies carried on communicating.
Lessons the Government needs to and might well have already learned.
The Cabinet Office’s freeze on “non-essential” marketing spending to help the Government achieve the initial £6.2bn savings demanded by the Treasury in June bought time.
Since, the Office of Budget Responsibly has been busy looking at ways of maintaining communication for less money.
It is said that utilising Whitehall departments ’ own websites more, partnerships with the private sector and possible tie-ups with the BBC are all being considered to get the Government’s message out for less.
Public sector marketers face perhaps even more austerity than their private counterparts but face the same challenges as those faced by most two years ago: how to make communication more accountable and work harder.
Welcome to the age of austerity.