Labour ministers have forked out almost 200 thousand pounds of public money checking how many times they’ve been mentioned in the media.
The Welsh Government’s monitoring service has cost the taxpayer an average 62 thousand pounds a year since 2011, with the full bill coming in at 186,651 pounds. Or – on average – around 5 thousand pounds every month.
16 thousand pounds has already been spent during the current financial year.
According to the Finance Minister – in her response to a written question from Welsh Conservatives – ‘the Welsh Government uses an external company to conduct media monitoring’.
North Wales Assembly Member Antoinette Sandbach has questioned the costs – highlighting the vast complement of press and communications officers already internally employed by the Labour government.
Information obtained by Welsh Conservatives earlier this year put that figure at 97.5 (Full-Time Equivalent) staff within the strategic communications department.
Media monitoring agencies generally provide clippings, scanned copies and notifications of relevant news articles or on-air mentions, in this case focusing upon coverage of the government and printed or broadcast mention of its Labour ministers. Their services come at a cost.
Welsh Conservative AM Ms Sandbach said:
“If Labour ministers want to find out how well they’re doing in the newspapers they should buy their own.
“Ploughing around three times the average Welsh salary into their own vanity every year is questionable at best.
“The Labour government machine already sucks millions from public pockets to fund a 100-strong army of press and communications staff.
“If their Labour masters want help reading the paper or switching on the telly – they should ask them.
“At a time when the NHS is struggling under the strain of Labour’s record-breaking budget cuts – and when schools, businesses and rural communities are all getting a raw deal from Labour ministers – communities will rightly label these costs excessive.”