Agencies are to miss out on the surge in Government spending they have
traditionally enjoyed in the run-up to general elections.
Spending plans by Whitehall departments suggest the Government’s ad
budget will total about pounds 63 million in the current financial year
- the same as last year.
The figures are in sharp contrast to the periods before the last two
elections. In the year before the 1987 election, the Government spent
pounds 104 million on advertising, which dropped to pounds 88 million
the following year. In the 12 months before the 1992 election, Whitehall
spent pounds 83 million, which fell to pounds 47 million a year later.
Government sources believe this year’s standstill budget is partly due
to a stricter interpretation of the rules which govern party political
advertising at the taxpayers’ expense.
Sources say ministers are determined to avoid further allegations of
‘Tory sleaze’ by Labour before the election. Asked to explain the
absence of a pre-election ad blitz, one minister said: ‘The Opposition
is watching us like a hawk.’
Privately, Whitehall advertising chiefs admit some previous multi-
million pound campaigns, including the ‘action for jobs’ programme,
would not be given the go-ahead today. ‘There has been a sea-change,’
one said. ‘But we had to go through that period in order to define the
More evidence of a clamp-down emerged in the annual report of the
Central Office of Information, published last week. It shows that the
Government’s adspend is running at only 62 per cent of its level in
The COI claims the big discounts it won on buying obtained a media value
of pounds 82 million from an actual spend of pounds 57.6 million -
saving taxpayers pounds 24.4 million.
The discounts cut the cost of press buying by 39 per cent, radio by 29
per cent, television by 19 per cent, and posters by 17 per cent, the