Coalition closes its advertising agency and slashes budget

Kasmira Jefford
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THE government has confirmed it will close its Central Office of Information and that its advertising budget has been cut by almost 70 per cent.

The closure of the agency, which commissions government advertising and publicity campaigns, will result in the loss of up to 400 jobs.

The decision follows a review in March by the former permanent secretary for government communications, Matt Tee, who proposed replacing COI with a new body.

Instead, the cabinet office will take over advertising and marketing activity, taking on 20 of COI’s staff to boost its existing communications teams.

The cabinet office, which published its response to the COI review yesterday said “the reforms are designed to consolidate those reductions, while ensuring that the remaining spend and activity on advertising and marketing is better coordinated and executed.”

It also said the coalition’s public sector spending cuts in June last year had led to a near-70 per cent cut in advertising and marketing spend from £532m in 2009-10 to an estimated £168m in the past 12 months.

Prospect, the union for professionals, condemned the move to axe the COI saying it was “in complete breach of the government’s declared policy of promoting shared services across central and local government”.

The organisation, which was founded in 1946, best known for producing public information films, also appoints advertising agencies and handles media buying on behalf of government departments.