Mark Whitehead 24 August 2015

Councils refute 'wasting' millions on media monitoring

Britain's biggest local authority has hit back at claims in a national newspaper that it has 'wasted' huge sums of money checking how it is reported in the media.

The Daily Mail used a Freedom of Information request to find out that local authorities spent a total of £1.3m over the last five years on contractors who monitor media coverage.

It said Birmingham City Council paid out £103,500 on media monitoring in the last five years, while Tower Hamlets spent £103,500 and Kent County Council £93,277.

It quoted the TaxPayers’ Alliance pressure group saying: ‘If councils focused on delivering a better service for taxpayers, perhaps they wouldn’t have to spend so much checking for damaging publicity.’

But a Birmingham City Council spokesperson said 'no stone has been left unturned by the council to make savings' and the amount spent on media monitoring had been cut by 84% in the last five years.

They added: 'There remains a need for some media monitoring to be carried out to ensure the council’s important information to residents can be evaluated to see if it is reaching the public and other target audiences and so we can ensure any future communications work is refined to make it even more effective.

'The council does not have the in-house resources to carry this out. Using an external contractor enables us to do this efficiently.'

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