DWP to spend £44m on ‘Workie’ auto-enrolment campaign

workplace-pensions

Whitehall officials have budgeted almost £50m for a high-profile campaign to promote automatic enrolment, Money Marketing can reveal.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced the campaign featuring “Workie”, the workplace pensions monster, in late October.

At the time, the DWP said it would spend £8.5m on the campaign for the 2015/16 year.

However, Money Marketing can now reveal the Government plans to spend at least £9m a year on the campaign until 2018/19.

Provisional budgets for the campaign will see the DWP spend £9.6m in 2016/17, £9m for 2017/18 and £9.9m in 2018/19.

The final year of the campaign, 2019/20, will see the budget cut down to £6.6m, meaning the total spend could reach £43.6m over the course of the Parliament, or £8.72m a year on average.

By comparison, the final three years of the DWP’s previous campaign, which used the likes of Karen Brady and Theo Paphitis, cost an average of £8.27m per year.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “The DWP would argue that this is too important to get wrong, and I have some sympathy for that.

“But £44m sounds like quite a lot of money, so I would certainly want to see some good metrics of success for that.”

Informed Choice managing director Martin Bamford says: “It’s a massive amount of money.

“If it was a modest spend over the life of the Parliament then I’d almost say ‘fair enough’, but they’re throwing millions at an awareness campaign when no-one will know for years if that will be worth the cost.”

However, Lucian Camp Consulting founder Lucian Camp argues the bill is still likely to be smaller than similar efforts from commercial firms.

He says: “The thing about mass-market advertising is that it is a very expensive game, and there is not much point in doing it if you don’t do it well.

“However, the option might have existed to build on their previous work and refresh that, rather than just dropping it altogether and starting again. I’m not sure that campaign was worn out to the extent that it needed to be dropped.

“But it would seem the DWP thought that because auto-enrolment had moved on to a new phase, it was worth trying something new to create basic awareness for the small businesses.”