True Cost of Council’s Communications Revealed
Ealing spends almost £3m of tax payers' money on publicity
Figures compiled by The TaxPayers' Alliance have revealed that the amount spent by Ealing Council on publicity last year (2006-07) was £2,979,000.
The spending puts Ealing 7th in the league table of London Borough Councils and 37th out of all local authorities in the country.
Ealing Council, who are required by law to keep a separate account of their expenditure on publicity, have increased spending by 132 per cent over the past decade though have never used a penny of its multi-million pound publicity budget on local web sites such as www.ealingtoday.co.uk, www.actonw3.com or www.chiswick4.com operating in the area.
With council tax bills having doubled over the last ten years, The TaxPayers' Alliance launched a series to review expenditure by local authorities to highlight areas of spending that could and should be reduced. These figures have never previously been compiled in one place because the TPA is the first non-government body to have collected the accounts for all 450-plus councils.
Entitled ‘Council Spending Uncovered’ the series of reviews challenges the claim that local authorities are short of money by publishing figures that will allow council taxpayers to decide for themselves whether their local authority is spending their money wisely. This first paper examined the increase in local authority spending on publicity over the last decade and uncovered some startling results.
The report revealed that neighbouring borough Hounslow's spend rose by an enormous 3611.7 per cent making theirs the largest increase out of all the 450 local authorities in the country. Although by contrast, Hounslow spent £1,203,000, less than a third of Ealing's bill.
However, not all councils increased their publicity spend. Hammersmith and Fulham spent £669,000 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 and make other efficiency savings and reduce council tax by 3 per cent, then it must be possible for other councils to follow suit.” said Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who adds “It’s important for council taxpayers to see just how their hard-earned money is being spent by town halls. With council tax doubling in the past decade, it’s extremely disappointing that councils have chosen to double their publicity budgets over the same period. With the internet cutting the cost of communication, it shouldn’t be difficult for local authorities to find savings in this area and bring council tax down.”
December 14, 2007