Conservatives promise to cut government adspend

LONDON - The Conservative Party pledged to cut the government's £160m-a-year advertising budget as part of a 'war on waste' announced at its annual conference in Blackpool this week.

Senior figures said a future Tory government would scrap "propagandist" campaigns now being run by Whitehall departments, such as those promoting the child-tax credit, the pensions credit and a rise in the national minimum wage. A Tory spokesman said: "We will run campaigns based on factual information. We will stop the political propaganda."

John Whittingdale, the Tories' shadow culture secretary, cited figures from Nielsen Media Research suggesting that spending by government departments rose by 34% in the first eight months of this year -- up from £46.8m in the same period last year to £62.6m. It found that spending on internet advertising has jumped 58%, from £710,000 last year to £1.125m this year.

Whittingdale said: "Labour is once again using taxpayers' money to try to dig itself out of a hole. Taxes are going up, public services and pensions are in crisis, violent crime is rising; so what does Labour do? It squanders an extra £15m on advertising to give the impression of action."

But a spokesman for COI Communications said it spent £119m on ads during the first eight months of this year, down slightly from £128m. The difference is believed to be due to Nielsen not including work by some government agencies that use COI.

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