Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles will today outline a plan to place local authority jobs online – a move which could impact the advertising revenue of a number of newspapers and trade magazines.
Pickles will urge greater vigilance over how taxpayer’s money is spent by local authorities, arguing that costs of £5,000 to £10,000 to place an ad in some national newspapers could be saved by putting more job vacancies online.
Some national newspapers – particularly the Guardian – and many public sector trade titles rely on revenue generated through publishing local authority job ads in their pages.
The Local Government Association conference was today set to hear Pickles’ plan to publish online all information on local auditory spending, tenders, job adverts and contracts over £500.
In addition, Pickles will also detail how job vacancies will be published in an open and standardised format, for anyone to use, re-publish and ‘mash up’ without charge.
He is expected to reaffirm his opinion that commercial news businesses should, over time, expect less state advertising as more information is made freely available on the web.
“Putting jobs online not only shows local people where their money is going. It will mean they can question whether those jobs are really needed at all,” he will say.
Pickles will offer an olive branch to the local newspaper industry by saying the move would not mean an end to advertising in the media.
Local newspapers in particular will remain an important source to advertise jobs to those who may be ‘digital excluded’and not have access to the internet, he will tell the conference in Bournemouth.
However, Pickles will stress how he thinks that over time, putting job adverts online will drive down advertising costs, make it easier to compare pay ranges within and across councils, and show local people where their council tax goes.
Last month, Pickles vowed to clamp down on ‘town hall Pravdas’by tightening the rules governing council-run newspapers that compete with independent local newspapers for revenue and readership.
That move was welcomed by the Newspaper Society – the trade organisation representing the interests of the local newspaper industry – as a way to ensure that a robust and healthy independent local press can continue to scrutinise the activities of local councils.