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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 12:10 GMT
City's 10m tops publicity spend
Birmingham City Council
Birmingham City Council said it was the biggest local authority in Europe
Birmingham City Council spends 10m a year on publicity - more than 10 times the average of local authorities in the UK, according to a report.

The Taxpayers' Alliance named the city as the biggest spender in 2006/7 based on data received from 470 councils after Freedom of Information requests.

The 985,000 UK average publicity spend was 80% higher than in 1997, it said.

Birmingham City Council said it was the largest UK council and was spending less per head than most others.

The alliance compared councils' recent accounts with those of a decade ago.

It found that eight councils spent more than 5m on publicity last year, 73 spent more than 2m and 141 councils spent more than 1m.

Four councils spent more than 2m on advertising for staff alone, with Kent County Council topping the list, the alliance said.

'Hard-earned money'

Matthew Elliott, chief executive for the Taxpayers' Alliance, said: "It's important for council taxpayers to see just how their hard-earned money is being spent by town halls.

"With council tax doubling in the past decade, it's extremely disappointing that councils have chosen to double their publicity budgets over the same period."

He added that with the internet cutting the cost of communication, it should not be hard to make savings in this area.

Source: Taxpayers' Alliance report

Birmingham City Council said it was the largest local authority in Europe, with a population of more than one million.

A spokesman said: "Birmingham is significantly larger than all other authorities on the Taxpayers' Alliance list, and is actually spending less per head on publicity, including recruitment advertising and other statutory requirements, than most of the other listed councils."

He added that its percentage increase on expenditure over the past 10 years was lower than any of the top 20 on the list.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, said councils had a duty to provide value for money and to tell people what services they get for their tax.

A spokesman said: "Councils provide more than 800 different services from archaeology to zoology and the belief that they simply pick up the bins is just nonsense.

"It is absolutely vital that residents are told how to access services."

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