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Watchdog backs overseas campaign

A Government drive to promote Britain overseas is on course to bring in almost £17 for every taxpayer pound spent on it, a public spending watchdog said.

The National Audit Office said it was "realistic" to expect the £113.5 million "Great" campaign to generate the hoped-for £1.9 billion over five years.

But it called for better staff training, consistent use of branding and more effort to properly assess the capacity of partners abroad to spend funding to help ensure the aim was realised.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: "The £1.2 billion reported by the Cabinet Office as a return on its £113.5 million campaign investment is based on anticipated, as well as actual, expenditure by business, tourists and students.

"Achieving the full return depends therefore on their intentions being realised as actual spending.

"To optimise value for money in future, the campaign needs to allocate resources based on a clear analysis of which partners are likely to generate economic activity of proven benefit to the UK economy."

A Government spokesman said: "This is the most ambitious Government campaign ever and showcases the very best of the UK.

"This report is very welcome and shows that guaranteeing value for money for the taxpayer is mission critical to Government communications. We will carefully consider the report's recommendations as we continue to use the GREAT brand to boost the country's prosperity."

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