Mass Media

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 11th June 2018.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what estimate he has made of the (a) start-up and (b) operation costs of the Government's rapid rebuttal unit; what the scope of that unit is; and what operations that unit has conducted so far.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip

The rapid response (note: not “rebuttal”) unit monitors news and information being shared and engaged with online, including misinformation and disinformation. It identifies emerging issues and ways to collaborate across Whitehall to respond quickly, accurately and with integrity. The Unit is part of the Government Communications Service (GCS).

Since launching the unit has provided round the clock monitoring on breaking news stories, ranging from the chemical weapons attack in Syria to domestic stories relating to the NHS and crime, working with press offices to formulate appropriate responses. We will be publishing blogs on the GCS website, outlining the progress of the unit.

The unit currently has five full time members of staff and four additional members of staff supporting the unit as part of their wider roles.

We are continually reviewing resource and cost to ensure the unit functions effectively.

Breakdown of costs

Human resource

NOTE: Percentage denotes time on other responsibilities.

Grade SIO x 2 = 100%

Grade IO x 2 = 100%

Grade AIO x 1 = 100%

Sub total Annual Cost £216,007*

Grade 6 x 1 = 50%

Grade 7 x 2 = 50%

SCS x 1 = 20%

Sub total Annual Cost £126,818*

Total Combined: £342,825 per full financial year

*Costs represent a full financial year with the team at full capacity

Additional staffing resource is being provided through a programme of full time secondments, funded by individual departments.

Technology

Software, technology and development costs come from a central (existing) budget.

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