Conservative outcry over record Labour advertising budget

By Our Parliamentary correspondent,, Friday, 27 July 2001 12:00PM

The Tories have called for a full-scale investigation into another

huge rise in the Government's advertising budget after it soared to a

record £192 million in the previous financial year.

The Opposition claimed the Labour government had launched a deliberate

advertising splurge ahead of the general election in June in an attempt

to woo voters. The Tories asked the Commons Public Accounts Committee,

Parliament's spending watchdog, to launch an inquiry and demanded that

the Cabinet Office prevent a similar rise ahead of future elections.

COI Communications' annual report disclosed that advertising spending

rose by 70 per cent from £113.5 million in the previous financial

year to £192.4 million in the year ending in March.

Television adspend doubled from £40.4 million to £84.7

million, while the budget for press increased from £36 million to

£44.3 million. Radio was up from £8.5 million to £20.4

million and poster spend up from £6.7 million to £8.1


The departments that showed big rises in their spending were education,

health, the home office and social security.

The Government was the second-largest advertiser in the 12 months to

March, just behind Unilever.

COI, whose total budget on all publicity rose from £200 million to

£295 million, said that spending was "significantly higher than

planned". It added: "There were new initiatives in areas such as rights

and benefits, health and safety, education and training, plus

recruitment campaigns for a variety of uniformed services."

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