Multimillion-pound campaign resulted in 3% of adult population doing online Brexit-readiness check

Written by PublicTechnology staff on 29 January 2020 in News

NAO report finds that government drive had limited impact on public preparedness

Credit: David Cliff/NurPhoto/PA Images

Just 3.2% of the UK adult population completed the government’s online Brexit-readiness check during a £46m communications campaign led by the Cabinet Office.

A review from the National Audit Office found that UK citizens were not, on the whole, “significantly better prepared” as a result of the ‘Get ready for Brexit’ campaign that ran during September and October last year. 

A budget of £100m was allocated for the comms drive, of which close to half had been spent when the campaign was paused on 28 October.

A range of activities – including print and broadcast adverts, as well as online information and a readiness questionnaire – were undertaken in a bid to ensure the public was prepared for an EU exit that was, at the time, scheduled for 31 October.

According to the NAO, over the course of the campaign, Brexit-related pages on GOV.UK received 42.9 million unique visits, while the main GOV.UK/Brexit page had 4.3 million unique visits. 

Related content​

Some 2.6 million people started to use the checker tool and two-thirds of these – 1.7 million – completed it.

This equates to just 3.2% of the 52.4 million adults that live in the UK.

The spending watchdog found that 34% of UK citizens said they had either looked at or had started to look at information on Brexit preparedness at the time the campaign was stopped – a figure that was "broadly unchanged from the beginning of the campaign".

"It ranged between 32% and 37% during the campaign and was 34% when the campaign stopped," the NAO found.

Auditors acknowledged that the Cabinet Office, which ran the campaign, "quickly assembled a team" to work on the project, which came together in just six weeks, rather than the standard five months for a government TV push, and that the team had to "communicate multiple messages to multiple audiences, amid great political uncertainty".

NAO head Gareth Davies said: "At short notice, the Cabinet Office successfully corralled multiple government departments to work together effectively and launched this complex campaign at great speed. However, it is not clear that the campaign resulted in the public being significantly better prepared. If the Cabinet Office faces a similar challenge in the future, it should, from the start, focus much more on what impact is needed and how best to deliver the behaviour change required by government, targeting spending on the activities that are likely to add the greatest value."

Responding to the NAO report, a government spokesperson said: "The Get ready for Brexit campaign reached 99.8% of the UK population and the NAO's findings showed increased public awareness of the action they needed to take to be ready to leave the EU. Not undertaking the campaign would have risked significant and unnecessary disruption to businesses and to people's lives."


Share this page




Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.

Related Articles

Why government is ‘failing’ on AI openness
17 February 2020

The body dedicated to upholding ethical standards across the public sector has published a major report examining how to ensure those standards are not threatened by AI and automation

Home Office admits some immigration data ‘only held on paper’
22 January 2020

Department is unable to share information on numbers of asylum applicants granted right to work as case files are only in hard-copy or other non-reportable formats

Report finds ‘warning signs of government becoming less open’
21 January 2020

Annual study from Institute for Government flags up patchy approach to transparency and ‘mixed’ progress on digital transformation

The biggest government tech stories of 2019 – part two
31 December 2019

Completing our 2019 round-up with the rundown of the five biggest stories of the year

Related Sponsored Articles