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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Another £46m down the drain in pursuit of Brexit

The most anti-business Tory Government ever strikes again. Not content with plunging the economy into uncertainty and possible depression through a hard Brexit and a nebulous trade deal it seems that Boris Johnson's government also wasted £46m on a “Get Ready for Brexit” campaign in October, which the National Audit Office claims demonstrated little evidence it left the public better prepared.

As the Guardian reports, the National Audit Office said ministers chose to run a £100m campaign – the most expensive of four options – to tell all UK businesses and individuals how they should prepare for leaving the EU. The campaign was launched as the 31 October deadline for leaving the EU approached.

But the evidence shows that the proportion of UK citizens who reported that they had looked or started to look for information, did not notably change:

Auditors said the numbers of people looking for information about Brexit did not notably change as a result – ranging from 32% and 37% during the campaign, to 34% when it stopped, having spent just under half of the allotted money.

The campaign was halted three days before the UK was supposed to leave after the EU granted another extension.

The report increases concerns over the government’s spending leading up to the 31 October deadline set by the prime minister to leave the EU with or without a deal.

It comes as the government prepares a new “Ready to Trade” campaign on 1 February, the day after the UK is due to formally leave the EU.

Auditors found the cabinet office’s business case did not demonstrate increased impact for the proposed spending on the campaign compared with lower-cost alternatives. Auditors said it was “not clear” it left people “significantly better prepared”.

To be fair, this is a common fault of most governments - the desire to do something, rather than to do what is effective. Evidence based policy making and proper evaluation appears to be lacking at all levels, and is made worse by inadequate scrutiny both by the media and the opposition.
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