Government Tees off into ad land and sends COI into the bunker

Forgive me for expressing some dismay about the Government’s decision to get rid of its own ‘ad agency,’ the Central Office of Information or COI.

This follows a review by Matt Tee, formerly of the Department of Health and NICE. To be fair to Tee he put forward a quite different model for the future to the one that the Government has decided on. But the Government has elected to move what is left of the COI function into the Cabinet Office.

It doesn’t feel like a master-stroke to me however many savings figures you put in front of me. And that’s not just because I recently bought a BFI box-set of COI public information films from the 70s. Nor that my experience is that involving the private sector usually means the taxpayer spends more in the long-run.

No, it is that while a 70% reduction in the Government’s communications budget might make a good headline today, it certainly won’t help ensure better headlines tomorrow. Not least because some of those headline-grabbing issues of the future are ones that might actually be mitigated by better information today.

The Cabinet Office Minister and former Treasury Minister during the Major Government, tried to reassure everyone yesterday that they won’t be cutting back on campaigns that might ‘save lives.’ Difficult to predict these though I would have thought.

I think the Government is playing a ‘blind hole’ as they call it in golf.

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