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Christmas Bonus: Advertising

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much his Department and its agencies have spent on informing the public of the extra one-off payment of £60 to Christmas bonus recipients; and in which publications and broadcasting outlets such advertisements have been placed; (253659)

(2) how much his Department and its agencies spent on placing the advertisement which appeared in the Sunday Times on 11 January 2009 relating to the one-off payment of £60 to Christmas bonus recipients; what other publications this advertisement was placed in; at what cost; and whether he approved the text in the advertisement.

The advertising was booked and bought together to provide coverage across key media titles. The total media cost for the week's advertising was £75,110.92.

The advert was placed in the following 19 daily and weekly titles:

The Sun

Daily Mirror

Daily Star

Daily Mail

Daily Telegraph

The Independent

The Times

Daily Express

The Guardian

The News of the World

Sunday Mirror

The People

Daily Star Sunday

Sunday Express

Mail on Sunday

Sunday Telegraph

Independent on Sunday

Sunday Times

The Observer

The advertising was undertaken to make pensioners, and their family and friends, aware of the additional Christmas bonus payment they will receive, announced in the Pre Budget Report on 24 November 2008.

The advertising explained that the payment would be made separately from the usual Christmas bonus and could be received at any time between January and March. It aimed to ensure that pensioners understood what the payment was and when they would receive it; and thus also to limit calls to the Department's contact centres.

The additional Christmas Bonus payment was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2008 Pre-Budget Report as one means of providing short-term support to help vulnerable groups through the economic downturn. The words 'real help now' appear on all public facing communications designed to promote support for the public and business during the economic downturn.

Given that some 15 million individuals will receive this additional payment advertising was deemed the most cost-effective way of communicating information to this group of our customers. The alternative way of reaching this group directly was through direct mail which would have been less efficient in this instance (estimated mailing costs to reach a group of this size are approximately £3.3 million).

The advertising copy was approved by senior officials in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Pension, Disability and Carers Service. Ministers were informed of the planned activity.