Nearly a billion of taxpayers’ money has been spent on advertising campaigns by the government in the three years since Boris Johnson became prime minister, official figures show.
A total of 828.9 million was spent by 11 departments, with the actual figure expected to be even higher as several ministries, including the Home Office, did not disclose their spending.
The Cabinet Office racked up the highest advertising spend since 2019, with a total of 586.1 million.
This cost was largely due to several major public awareness campaigns during the pandemic, the Cabinet Office spent £376 million in the 2020/21 financial year which spanned most of the weeks the UK was under Covid-19 lockdown.
It included paying government agencies like MullenLowe to mount hard-hitting campaigns on Covid restrictions, vaccinations and testing.
By contrast, in a normal year in 2019/20, the Cabinet Office spent £41 million.
The figures were discovered through a series of parliamentary questions written by Labor MP Jon Trickett.
He said that despite the need for public health ads during the pandemic, the total cost by all departments over three years was nonetheless staggering.
The next biggest-spending Whitehall department was the Department for Education, which has spent £79.5million over the three years since 2019.
It was followed by the Department for Work and Pensions on 50.1 million, international trade on 43.4 million, the Department of Health on 35.68 million and transport on 30.6 million.
Mr Trickett, MP for Hemsworth, said: “For government departments to have spent $1billion of taxpayers’ money on advertising since 2019 is staggering.
It was only right that significant resources were devoted to public health advertising campaigns during the pandemic, particularly that of promoting vaccination.
However, the fact that at least $828 million has been spent on advertising budgets across government, with some departments not specifying the amount spent, raises serious concerns.
The public deserves an explanation as to why the disclosed expenses are approaching $1 billion.
We also need to know which companies have been involved in this, who works for them, as well as information on their clientele, where there are links to the government and the Conservative Party.
There must be full transparency from each government department for these expenditures.
A government spokesperson said: Over the past two years we have faced an unprecedented pandemic that has required targeted communications to deliver crucial public health messages.
It was a key part of our response to Covid-19 and was essential in driving the uptake of our life-saving vaccine in communities across the UK.
At the same time, we constantly monitor spending to ensure that we are getting value for the taxpayer.
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