Tuesday, December 04, 2007

TPA: Council Spending #1—Publicity

With Council Tax having almost doubled in the last decade, it is almost inevitable that The Taxpayer's Alliance should have turned their beady eyes on the spending habits of local authorities. However, with over 450 Councils and a multitude of spending categories, the TPA have split up the research and the first up is publicity spending [full PDF].

The key findings are as follows:
  • The average local authority spends almost £1 million (£985,000) on publicity.

  • The average local authority is spending double the amount on publicity than it did in 1996-97:

    • Without taking account of inflation the average local authority spent £430,000 on publicity ten years ago. The average spend today is a 130 per cent increase on that 1996-97 figure.

    • In today’s prices the average local authority spent £550,000 on publicity in 1996-97. The average spend today is an 80 per cent increase in real terms on a decade ago.

  • The total local authority publicity bill is £450 million.

  • There is one local authority, Birmingham City Council, that spends more than £10 million on publicity.

  • There are 8 local authorities spending more than £5 million on publicity.

  • There are 73 local authorities spending more than £2 million on publicity.

  • There are 141 local authorities spending more than £1 million on publicity.

  • The total spend on publicity is not broken down in a uniform way in the various local authority accounts. It is possible, however, to identify 44 councils that spend at least £1 million and 4 councils spending at least £2 million on staff recruitment advertising—despite the increased use of websites. If all local authority accounts provided a full breakdown of publicity spending, the number of councils spending at least £1 million on staff advertising would almost certainly increase.

  • The doubling of average publicity spending per local authority in the last decade is extremely disappointing. There are, however, a number of councils that are actually spending less on publicity than ten years ago. For example:

    • Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council spent £669,000 on publicity in 2006-07, down 11 per cent from the £751,000 spent in 1996-97.

    • In 2005-06, however, the council spent £1,030,000 on publicity, meaning that the 1-year fall in spending was 35 per cent.

    • If Hammersmith and Fulham can reduce publicity spending by 35 per cent in one year (in part by allowing advertising by local businesses in council publications) make other efficiency savings and reduce council tax by 3 per cent, then it must be possible for other councils to follow suit.

As an aside, Lambeth Council—under whose (actually reasonably cheap) jurisdiction your humble Devil lives—has a number of adverts at Brixton Tube (and other stations, for all I know) proclaiming a falling crime rate over the last year. I can't speak for the truth of this; the only comment that I will offer is that the police in Brixton have a well-known tolerance for any cannabis crime, i.e. they do not go after users and dealers and the smell of skunk pervades the market area.

I wouldn't have a problem with this, except that many dealers hung around in the bus stops to the right of the Tube, peddling their wares (in a non-threatening but extraordinarily obvious manner): if I smoked the stuff, I would be in hog heaven. However, obviously Lambeth Council had received complaints and, instead of instructing the police to stop their tolerance of this activity, they decided to go another route.

Yes: they removed all of the covered bus stops.

Sure, there aren't so many youths dealing extraordinary smelly skunk: but now everybody has to get fucking soaked when waiting for a bus in the rain. I feel personally aggrieved at this solution, frankly.

UPDATE: from the PDF, Lambeth's spending is as follows:

The last two figures mean that Lambeth is below average for publicity spending: although it ranks at 69 for size of population, but only 114th in the spending rankings. Cheers, Lambeth...


Old BE said...

I couldn't agree more about Brixon high street. It's disgusting and quite threatening down there.

Anonymous said...

Birmingham City Council spends upwards of 10 Million on publicity and everyone still thinks its a shithole.

Anonymous said...

Publicity Spending

A local council now spends a huge amount on publicity. Much of it is spent on useless supplements produced by the owners of the local newspaper.

That tells us why the local press is no longer capable of investigating local politicians.

To all local hacks reading this - tell me im wrong!

Tomrat said...

Bloody hell - according to those reports Leeds is the third highest spender! And..bugger me - Bradford is one of the councils over the £5m mark!! Thats a doss hole of the worst kind.
In saying that though there may be a reason for the increase in Bradford publicity spending - they've been trying to win the European City of Culture award for years!

I wonder though how this compares to Oldhams figures? Hm...

An potential advert for Bradford -"Bradford: not a place to do any rioting or beating up white people who step foot into 'non-white' areas, no sirree...that's Oldham that is."

Tomrat said...

Correction: Leeds is third highest in the Yorkshire & Humberside region. My bad

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

A massive slap on the back for TPA- well done to them for their hard work on this one. I look forward to seeing whatever else is forthcoming on council spending.

As a result of today's item, I felt compelled to join them- unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an oppportunity to make an immediate donation or find out more about exactly what being a member entails. Perhaps someone will contact me in due course.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Seems I missed the big 'donate now' button on the front page :)

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