Professional Assurance

The cross-government No.10/Cabinet Office campaigns team works with government departments and Arms Length Bodies (ALBs) to ensure that, where taxpayers’ money is being spent on government communications, it is cost-effective and reflects best practice.

Making a spending request

A Professional Assurance application form is required for expenditure on all campaigns or programmes of communication with a value of £100,000 or over (per year).

All applications must have written approval from the relevant departmental Minister and Director of Communications before being submitted. This also applies to ALBs, who must seek these internal approvals from their parent department.

Download the Professional Assurance form 09/09/2017 .

Cabinet Office operates these spending controls on behalf of HM Treasury. Guidance on spending controls is available on the Cabinet Office website here. Details of the Advertising and Marketing Controls are available at Annex 3.

We encourage you to engage with us as early as possible ahead of formally submitting your application. This will allow us to answer your questions, raise any queries, and advise on any further information that may be required. The Professional Assurance form includes drafting notes that provide a guide to what you should cover in your application, and lead Professional Assurance contacts for departments (and their ALBs) are provided at the bottom of this page.

Submitting your application

Departments should submit an application as soon as they are ready (there are no longer periodic ‘batch’ deadlines for spending requests), and should expect to receive a response no later than 21 days from the date of submission.

In exceptional circumstances, we can attempt to get a response in a shorter timeframe, but this cannot be guaranteed: the 21-day turnaround should be factored into your planning to meet any internal or campaign delivery deadlines.  The submission process is as follows:
1. When you have completed the form and received internal approvals, submit your final application to the communications.controls@cabinetoffice.gov.uk inbox.
2. You will receive an email notification confirming that your application has been received and when you should expect a response.
3. Your application will be reviewed by the Cabinet Office/No. 10 campaigns team, prior to submission to the Minister for the Constitution at Cabinet Office.
4. In the event of any questions, the campaigns team will be in touch directly.
5. Following a Ministerial decision, a formal confirmation letter will be provided to your Director of Communications.

Meeting conditions set on spending approvals

The Minister for the Constitution may set some conditions upon which your spending approval is contingent. These will be laid out in the decision letter sent to your Director of Communications, and you will be asked to acknowledge them and agree how your progress towards meeting them will be reported to the Cabinet Office/No.10 campaigns team.

Our acceptance of any Professional Assurance application for spending in a subsequent financial year will be dependent on you meeting any conditions set on previous approvals.

Procurement in support of approved spending 

All new contracts for the supply of any communications services must be procured only through government frameworks approved by the Cabinet Office. For guidance on procurement through approved frameworks please refer to the Crown Commercial Service website.

If your campaign involves paid-for media, please ensure that your team uses the standard Media Buying Brief to communicate your requirements to Carat.

Evaluating your activity

We require every department (and ALB) receiving spending approval to report back on the effectiveness of their activity. This evaluation form should be completed and returned as early as evaluation methods allow, in advance of your spend request for the next financial year, and no later than six months after the activity has ended to communications.controls@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Your professional assurance contacts

We strongly advise engaging directly with the Professional Assurance team as early as possible when preparing your application for any particular campaign. Lead contacts for departments (and their ALBs) are listed below. If you have general enquiries about the scope or process of Professional Assurance, or are unable to reach the contacts below, please email communications.controls@cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

Departments Email
BEIS, DCLG, DCMS, DFT, DIT, HMT james.francis@cabinetoffice.gov.uk
Cabinet Office, DFID, FCO, Home Office, MOD, Northern Ireland Office, Scotland Office, Wales Office pinky.badhan@cabinetoffice.gov.uk
Defra, DFE, DWP, HMRC, MOJ clara.eaglen@cabinetoffice.gov.uk
DExEU, DH claire.pimm@cabinetoffice.gov.uk