Last year’s Get ready for Brexit campaign (the campaign) had a budget of £100 million and was launched on 1 September 2019. Despite spending £46 million of taxpayers’ money, the Cabinet Office was unable to demonstrate that the campaign led to people being better prepared for the UK leaving the EU on 31 October. Planning started too late with insufficient attention paid at the outset to understanding what businesses needed, or how to monitor and evaluate the campaign’s success; thereby undermining the Cabinet Office’s ability to steer the campaign effectively. Too much was spent on the mass advertising elements of the campaign designed to raise awareness and not enough on targeted activity which would get people to take action.
When the transition period for the UK’s exit from the EU ends, it will result in significant changes for many people and businesses. When that happens, it will be vital that citizens are well prepared. Whether it be a member of the public planning to drive abroad, or a company trading across borders, all will need to understand, in good time, what action they should take and by when. In its next campaign preparing citizens and businesses for the end of the transition period, the Cabinet Office must learn from the mistakes of the Get ready for Brexit campaign.
As well as preparing the campaign for the end of the transition period, the Cabinet Office is also at the forefront of delivering the government’s public health information campaign on Covid-19. We are concerned that the Cabinet Office may lack the capacity to successfully deliver two such important campaigns and may also overload the public’s ability to receive and act on the messages.
Published: 3 June 2020