‘Unboxing’ £120 Million Of Public Spend

‘Unboxing’ £120 Million Of Public Spend

November 22, 2022

It may have been branded twice, but it seems nothing could save The Festival of Brexit, AKA Unboxed, from tanking in the public engagement stakes. With a target of 66 million punters, the series of events across 107 locations purportedly attracted a mere 240k attendees, although these figures were refuted by the festivals executive director  today, who claims the audience number should include the 13.5 million who accessed digital and broadcast content and the 1.7 million who took part in learning, volunteer and community participation activities.

Touted as the festival to welcome the golden age of post Brexit Britain, Theresa May carved off £120 million of public funds to support the event which launched in March 2022 and will run to the end of  November 2022.

According to Unboxed Report and Financial Statement to July 2021, the overall budget totalling £120 million was allocated from a combination of the DCMS, The Northern Island Executive, Scottish Government and Welsh Government. The company was a 100% subsidiary of the the Birmingham Organising Committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games Limited. £3.6million of payments was made to the 30 teams that took part in the R&D programme, to develop ideas for the festival and then initial funding of £1.5mil given to the 10 selected programs. These projects were chosen from 300 applications across technology, engineering, maths, science and the arts.

However, the National Audit Office (NAO) has launched an investigation into how the £120m project was managed, with such a small number of people reported to have visited the actual events, in contrast to an early target of 66 million. In the Festivals ‘Spend over £25k report’,  more than £1.4 million was paid to advertising giant Manning Gottlieb OMD and more than £200k to  7 Stars Media, purportedly the UK’s largest independent media agency. So where did the promotion go so wrong? This information was sourced within the Unboxed website, by going several layers deep into the company board meetings minutes and financial audit documents, it was difficult to otherwise source contracts that outlined advertising or other promotional spend.

Chair of the DCMS Committee Julian Knight MP called for the investigation last month after previously finding the festival to be an “irresponsible use of public money”

Knight said “The design and delivery of Unboxed has been an unadulterated shambles from the very start. The paltry numbers attracted to the festival despite such a hefty investment highlight just what an excessive waste of money the whole project has been. It would take optimism beyond belief for it to now reach its target for visitor numbers. At a time of financial pain for so many during the cost of living crisis, there are serious questions that need answering as to how such a vast amount of tax payers’ cash has been allowed to be squandered on something that we warned months ago risked turning in to a fiasco.”

The Committee previously criticised the delivery of Unboxed in its report in March on major cultural and sporting events.The Report concluded that the £120million investment was ‘an irresponsible use of public money’ given the Government’s own admission that it does not know what it is for. The Committee warned that it is ‘far from clear’ that it will deliver a return on investment.

Spend Network are experts in global government procurement data. We can help businesses access government buying opportunities at scale. We also provide research and consultancy services. Get in touch to find out more.

Because you read this article, you may be interested in Lessons Learned In Public Procurement

Cover image-Green Space and Dark Skies courtesy of Unboxed.

March 21, 2023

AUKUS Defence Procurement Deal

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined the US President Joe Biden, and the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in San Diego this...
March 14, 2023

Australian Government Responds to COVID-19 Procurement Review

Many governments around the world have faced pressure regarding their procurement of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, so it is encouraging to see...
March 8, 2023

EU Joint Ammunition Procurement

EU ministers will meet today in Stockholm to decide whether to  jointly procure  ammunition to aid Ukraine and replenish domestic stockpiles. EU...
March 7, 2023

Denial Of Service By Wall Of Text

Clarkesworld Magazine is a publisher of science fiction short stories. They accept and pay for submissions from anyone. As of last week,...
March 1, 2023

Canadian Government Announces Rail Procurement Process

This week, the Canadian Government announced a major step in the procurement process for their High Frequency Rail project: the launch of...
February 28, 2023

Deduplication Routines

Deduplication is a deceptively complex problem to handle at scale. There’s a simple, ugly and brutal way to do it, where you...
February 23, 2023

Policy Proposal: Analysts In Place

Data is critical to the functioning of government. Policies and services live or die on the quality of data. Successes and failures...
February 23, 2023

Hallucination As A Service

I asked Chat-GPT to find me some academic papers that highlight the usefulness of combining two different machine learning techniques. I hoped...
February 20, 2023

Future Trends in Government Procurement

Over the years, government procurement has undergone significant changes, with new trends emerging that are reshaping the way governments buy goods and...
February 15, 2023

Making Your Own Export Platform?

If you are building your own export platform, sourcing, organising and analysing your data has its challenges. Here are some of the...
February 14, 2023

Tackling Modern Slavery in Supply Chains – Guidance

On 26 March 2020, the UK became the first country to publish a Government Modern Slavery Statement, setting out the steps government...
February 8, 2023

Securing The Competitive Edge.

Are you an exporter looking for leads for your exporters? Do you want to help your in-country teams build more partnerships within...
February 7, 2023

The Benefits of Data Tech 101

Government procurement, the process by which government entities purchase goods, services and works from private businesses, is being revolutionised by the integration...
February 1, 2023

EU Awards New Gas Aggregation Contract

In December 2022, EU energy ministers agreed to create a platform for the collective demand aggregation and joint procurement of gas, with...
January 25, 2023

Does Procurement Need Blockchain?

Blockchain is fundamentally a database, but rather than a database where one item is allowed to replace another, each change to the...


Compelling research, insights and data directly into your inbox.

Recent media stories