Government to use TV ads to point people towards no-deal guidance site

Written by John Johnston and Sam Trendall on 1 March 2019 in News

Comms campaign to promote online advice and info will ramp up in the coming weeks

Credit: Open Government Licencev3.0/Crown Copyright​

TV advertisements urging businesses and the public to prepare for a no-deal Brexit are to be aired ahead of the UK's exit from the EU, the head the civil service has said.

The plans, unveiled by Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, form part of a series of no-deal preparations agreed by senior ministers in December to boost planning for a no-deal exit. 

For the last four months, the government has been publishing online guidance on a range of issues. A dedicated no-deal advice website (pictured above) has also been set up, collating content and services designed to help UK citizens and companies make any necessary preparations for a no-deal Brexit. This includes information for EU citizens that live in UK, and UK nationals that live abroad.

In recent weeks, this work has been supported by radio adverts informing listeners that they might need to prepare – and pointing them towards the website:

The civil service chief said the new adverts would complement those which have aired on the radio since January, urging the public to renew their passports and check their travel plans.

“The information is available. We’ve been putting it out on the website for several months, that has now been complemented by some radio advertising, we have plans to bring through some TV advertising as well. So, there is a communications campaign," he told the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. “But of course, citizens and businesses are aware of that, but they also look at the front pages and the news bulletins and they make a judgement, their own judgement, on the likelihood of no-deal on 29 March and that will influence their judgments about the extent to which they need to make personal preparations to do so.”

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He added: “If the news started to shift, and people believe that the likelihood of no-deal, whether at the end of March or later, became greater, then we would see a shift in the pattern of behaviour.”

Earlier this week, analysis from the government warned that one-third of critical infrastructure projects due to be completed before the UK’s exit date were off-track, partly due to businesses failing to prepare sufficiently for a no-deal scenario.

The report added: “Despite communications from the government, there is little evidence that businesses are preparing in earnest for a no deal scenario, and evidence indicates that readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, is low.”

A spokesperson for the prime minister said: "There have been radio and newspaper advertisements so far and I think there are TV advertisements that are due to follow – they are part of the public awareness campaign," they said "It’s about alerting people to the steps they need to take when they are leaving the EU. The purpose is to make sure people are well informed of the steps they need to take."

They added: “I don’t know how frequent they will be, but it’s part of a planned communications campaign which we set out when the cabinet agreed back in December to ensure that we initiated all relevant no-deal plans."

According to a government survey published earlier this week, 55% of British adults did not expect to be impacted by a no-deal scenario


About the author

John Johnston is a political reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared. 

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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