Introducing this year’s UK Government Communication Plan

Today, we have published our annual plan for government communicators. This covers the work of @ukgovcomms over the next year. We should all be proud of the scope, ambition and successes and humble in our desire to improve our work and serve the public. I urge everyone to read it carefully, and to take forward three things from the plan to work on over the next year.

Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communication.

It’s a plan for the next year which comes after we have delivered two of the biggest campaigns in the history of government communication, on public health to combat COVID-19 and to support the UK’s transition out of the EU. These were genuinely cross government efforts – from the Ministry of Defence to the Department of Health – and have helped protect, inform and support people, businesses and communities.

Priorities for the year ahead

This year, our communication will help to deliver the following priorities – you can read more about each of these in the Government Communication Plan:

  • Beating COVID-19 and Backing the NHS
  • Build Back Better
  • Build Back Stronger
  • Build Back Fairer
  • Build Back Safer
  • Build Back Greener; and
  • Delivering for the UK

These priorities reflect the Prime Minister’s ambition for the country and have been endorsed by the Ministerial Board chaired by Julia Lopez MP, Minister for the communication function in government.

One of the most important lessons learned from the pandemic is how effective government communication can be when we speak with one voice. Our approach in 2021/22 will reflect this, with the delivery of fewer campaigns, that are coordinated, carefully planned, better and more impactful. This is an exciting moment for our profession as we work together to deliver world-class communication that makes a difference to citizens across the United Kingdom.

Some of this work is already underway. In recent weeks I’ve met with the excellent team who work on teacher recruitment to test their approach for the year ahead, talked to the GREAT campaign about their exciting new plans and gone through the ‘Build Back Safer’ portfolio with the Home Office. We’ve already launched the important new Stop Abuse Together campaign and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) team have led on the publication of the Integrated Review of Security policy which has had global impact, supported by colleagues at Trade, Defence and the Cabinet Office.

The future of our profession

This year’s plan highlights how the Reshaping GCS programme will help us to become an even stronger and more unified organisation. By breaking down departmental silos and using our shared expertise as communicators, we will ensure that our new approach is efficient, effective and, ultimately, delivers value for money for the taxpayers.

For newer GCS members, as well as the partners and stakeholders we work with, the plan also offers a vital insight into how we are structured and how we work.

And the plan includes the work of our agencies. It recognises the expertise of colleagues in places like Public Health England, now the UK Health Security Agency, the DVLA (who won the Civil Service Comms Award this year) and the vital work of NHSBT, among others.

Developing our skills

The plan explores the opportunities for GCS as a whole and for each of us as individual members to innovate and improve our skills. It highlights several areas of focus for building even better communications practice in the year ahead, as we continue to learn lessons from the pandemic and adapt to new technologies and audience behaviours.

Of particular importance is the soon-to-launch GCS Curriculum, which will provide continuous professional development for communicators across all grades, ensuring that we are consistently building on and sharing our knowledge and expertise.

Building back better, together

The plan also recognises the wide-ranging impact of government communications over the last year. I want to sincerely thank colleagues for their adaptability, tenacity and dedication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to have a huge impact on our daily lives. I am extraordinarily proud of the work we have undertaken and results we have achieved over the last year. The world-leading communication that we have delivered has helped to save both lives and livelihoods. As we now turn to the year ahead, we will build upon our successes and take forward important lessons learnt from this time.

I look forward to working with you all to ensure that we deliver on the ambitions set out in this plan, helping the country to build back better.