Wages of spin soar under Labour: Government spends £220m a year on 'professional communications experts'

Gordon Brown

Increase: The cost of spin has soared under Gordon Brown

The number of Government spin doctors has quadrupled since Labour came to power with more than 4,000 now employed at taxpayers' expense.

It is estimated that more than £220million a year is being spent on employing an army of 'professional communications' experts.

The growing numbers of civil service and external public relations experts makes a mockery of Gordon Brown's promises to put an end to spin.

In fact, according to a Conservative analysis, Central Office of Information spending on advertising, marketing and public relations has soared under Mr Brown by a total of over £200million a year from £338million under Tony Blair to £540million today.

The Conservatives found that a total of 3,284 staff are now deployed in departmental press and communication directorates.

Of these, 1,813 are in Whitehall departments and 1,471 are in agencies and quangos.

There are also up to 700 'embedded communicators' responsible for communicating the Government's message to the public and other agencies.

On top of the in-house spin doctors, the Government spends £21million a year on external public relations.

Before Labour came to power in 1996, there were only 1,640 communications staff across Whitehall and its agencies.

Shadow cabinet office minister Nick Hurd, who compiled the statistics using the Central Office of Information 'White Book' of Government and agency press officers, said: 'Labour has bankrolled a vast spin machine, politicised the Civil Service and created a corrosive culture of deception at the heart of Whitehall.'

A Cabinet Office spokesman described the Conservative figures as 'misleading'. He pointed out that they cover organisations including the Metropolitan Police, the CBI, the BBC and the devolved Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations.

The spokesman added: 'Government policies affect the lives of millions of people and they must be communicated effectively if they are to bring the benefits intended.'

A Harris Interactive poll for the Financial Times yesterday found that only one person in ten believes Government statistics, with the vast majority thinking that official figures are either wrong or fiddled by politicians.

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