The move, announced by the Cabinet Office, has been expected since March, when a report by permanent secretary Matt Tee recommended that the COI be axed.
The Tee review called for the establishment of a Government Communications Centre to replace the COI. However, no plans for this have been announced. Instead, the Cabinet Office says it will set up a centralised Communications Delivery Board and a specialist communications procurement unit.
It will also look to develop a shared communications delivery pool for certain specialist services, as well as a small number of specialist marketing hubs.
The Cabinet Office says that there has been a 68 per cent reduction in external spend through the COI over the past year. This follows the introduction of a freeze on non-essential marketing spend in June 2010.
In addition, Government departments have reduced their in-house communications staff by about a quarter and their budgets by half.
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, says, ‘This Government has slashed unnecessary spending on communications. These important and significant changes to Government communications structures are designed to reflect this and to save more money by cutting bureaucracy and reducing duplication.’
Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, says, ‘We can only hope that the new regime being put in place will never forget that the campaigns the COI, their clients in Government and their agencies produced have saved many lives and saved millions in taxpayers’ money.’
He adds, ‘It will be interesting to see how [agencies] will fare with the less well-resourced Government departments when the COI isn’t there.’