Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire completed a review of 18 adverts produced by the Scottish Government, and available on YouTube, and found that only five included a telephone number.
Jo looked into the matter after speaking to a constituent concerned that they were being denied access to important public service information and has since written to the Scottish Government.
Jo has also tabled parliamentary questions in Westminster to gauge the scope of the problem in adverts produced by UK Government departments and agencies.
Commenting Jo said:
"Only advertising web addresses in awareness campaigns leaves many people in the dark, especially vulnerable elderly people who are not online. I was shocked at some of the adverts that didn't include telephone numbers for more information.
"Research shows it's usually those who are digitally excluded that access public services more frequently. It makes sense to include telephone numbers alongside websites so that everyone can access the useful information and advice on offer.
Links to sample adverts are:
Cancer prevention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2DsrwXuCfY
Get ready for winter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1Cis1qRBOk
Road safety: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1uO1ld8Nuw
Debt arrangement scheme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EhpDD3TV98
- Jo has tabled the following Parliamentary Questions:
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what, if any, standards the Government has in place regarding the type of contact information that is to be included in public service advertisements
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many public service advertisements produced by advertising agencies on behalf of the Government in a) 2010-2011 b) 2011-2012 included telephone contact information
To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many public service advertisements produced by advertising agencies on behalf of the Government in a) 2010-2011 b) 2011-2012 included postal contact information
- Jo's letter to the Scottish Government is below:
John Swinney MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth
The Scottish Parliament
17 August 2012
A constituent has made me aware of the lack of telephone contact information on a number of public service advertisements produced by the Scottish Government.
Given that broadband take-up in Scotland tends to be behind that of the rest of the UK it is important that people are able to access the information made available by the Government through a variety of means.
While I recognise that work is being done to tackle the digital divide and get more households online, there are many people who have yet to do so. People should not have inferior access to the full range of government service available because they lack broadband access.
Would you please respond as to whether there are standards set centrally by the Government regarding the information that public service adverts should contain and if so what these are.
I look forward to your response.
Jo Swinson MP