Further to the answer given by the Paymaster General on 16 July 2020, Public First was engaged by the Cabinet Office to test public opinion and reaction to government messaging including focus groups for COVID-19 research. This work has helped to understand public attitudes and behaviours to inform our vitally important public health messages and policies, and has enabled us to deliver a strong, national, cross-government communications campaign to support the UK’s response and recovery from the pandemic.
In the discharge of this activity it was necessary for Public First to meet with civil servants to report on the findings of the focus groups. Public First also provided on-site resource to support Number 10 communications. In line with the practice of successive administrations, details of internal discussions are not normally disclosed. Any Government announcements will be made in the usual way.
Cabinet Office publishes expenditure, including on research, on a rolling monthly basis, and details of its contracts on GOV.UK as part of routine government transparency arrangements. GOV COMMS EU EXIT PROG and EU EXIT COMMS were existing cost codes used to pay invoices relating to COVID-19 research within a reasonable period of time. These payments were subsequently journaled over to the COVID-19 cost centre once that was created.