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Departmental Expenditure

Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to the answer of 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 1009W, on departmental expenditure, what accounted for the increases in expenditure by (a) employment and learning, (b) health, social services and public safety and (c) the Northern Ireland Office on advertising between 2003-04 and 2004-05; and if he will take steps to reduce the amount spent on advertising. (77217)

Further to my answer of 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 1009W, I have informed the hon. Member in writing that figures provided for four Departments in 2004-05 were incorrect. This answer is based on the corrected figures given on 4 July 2006.

The increase in expenditure by (a) employment and learning is accounted for by the Essential Skills Campaign to address the problems of literacy and numeracy. The corrected figures show that spending by (b) health, social services and public safety decreased during the period. The increase in expenditure by (c) the Northern Ireland Office was due to the recruitment advertising of NIO posts locally and nationally. The corrected figures also show that expenditure by environment increased during the period. This is due to additional funding for newly launched road safety campaigns in respect of motorbikes, speeding and drugs and to increase airtime for the anti-drink driving campaign at certain times of the year such as Christmas and bank holidays.

Steps have already been taken to reduce the amount spent on advertising. A fundamental review of how Government procure and manage advertising has been completed. The review report, published in April 2006 and available in the House of Commons Library, sets out a series of recommendations which will contribute to an overall reduction in the amount spent on advertising and an increase in effectiveness.