‘Unboxing’ £120 Million Of Public Spend

‘Unboxing’ £120 Million Of Public Spend

November 22, 2022
Procurement

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.

November 29, 2022

Data and Public Procurement.

There are some good reasons for including procurement data in your alternative data strategy. Governments are big and getting bigger. Before the...
November 29, 2022

Ensuring Data Integrity.

Not all data is the same. It might have come from the same source, but how it gets treated is vital. If...
November 24, 2022

Govt Issues £4.2bn Tender To Update Legacy Services

Crown Commercial Services together with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), have released a contract notice for the Digital and Legacy Application Services...
November 17, 2022

We Sell Data, Not Seats.

Why we sell data not seats? We're data analysts. We really understand the data we gather. We've been doing it for 15...
November 15, 2022

Saab Voices Opposition To Canadian Gov Procurement

The Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) agency has begun negotiating the final terms of delivery with Lockheed on an order from...
November 10, 2022

Your Data, Your Rules

If your company is hiring data analysts, you need data. You don’t need a login to a website which restricts the queries...
November 28, 2022

Life Moves Pretty Fast

We've been talking for a while about AI and possible impacts on procurement. We use AI in our own service to almost...
October 27, 2022

Lessons Learned In Public Procurement

The National Audit office is working on a Lessons Learned report, highlighting opportunities for change in public procurement. Topics will include commercial and...
October 20, 2022

Does Your Data Have Integrity?

Not all data is the same. It might have come from the same source, but how it gets treated is vital. If...
October 13, 2022

Australian Government Covid Procurement Findings

As the world emerges from the pandemic, governments are reviewing their procurement of Covid related goods and services. The Australian Government tasked...
October 11, 2022

Hungary Passes Transparency Bills.

Last week, Hungary's government passed the first two of 17 anti-corruption legislation bills, in a bid to avoid losing €7.5bn in financing...
October 6, 2022

Babcock Lands Polish Defence Contracts.

The UK Government has this week signed major major defence equipment agreements with Poland’s military capability. At the Zamość Military Base in...
October 4, 2022

New enRichMyData project offers innovative solutions for data enrichment

Several European and international organisations, covering large corporations, SMEs, research centres and universities, are joining forces to develop new methods and tools...
September 29, 2022

£900k Government Fund To Help Charities Win Public Contracts.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is running a Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Contract Readiness Fund grant...
September 27, 2022

New EU Procurement Instrument Now Law.

About a year ago, we wrote an article on the new procurement instrument approved by the European Union. In recent weeks this...

Newsletter

Compelling research, insights and data directly into your inbox.

Recent media stories

Search

Scroll to Top