The ‘known’ cost of the Covid-19 newsletters was £10,000 plus the paid time of States Works employees delivering them to every household on the Island.
Alex Snowdon asked how much the six newsletters had cost to produce amid allegations that they often contained a strong whiff of government propaganda.
The decision to start a newsletter came from the Chief Executive Officer’s office. He authorised the funding for it and apparently signed them off.
At the September States meeting Mr Snowdon asked Policy and Finance chairman James Dent about the cost of it.
Can the Chairman explain the costs to the States of Alderney for the Newsletter, including civil service time, consultants employed, printing and delivery- ( including hand delivering), total costs incurred so far? Also which committee approved the ongoing public funding?
Mr Dent said:
‘Known costs currently stand at just under £10,000. The newsletters were compiled and designed in-house by the civil service team often working out of hours.
‘The majority of the distribution to households was carried out either by staff volunteering their free time or during ‘slack’ normal work hours. There were therefore little extra costs for this – in fact, only two Issues, Issues 1 and 6 were distribution by outsiders – in this case, Guernsey Post undertook the distribution at £185 for each issue.
‘I am pleased therefore to report that no established staff time costs have had to be allocated specifically to this project. And because of the nature and low level of expenditure, the Chief Executive was able to authorise the project.’
Mr Dent said he fully supported the newsletter as an initiative that had ‘assisted in keeping our community safe’ during the Covid-19 crisis.
‘It was deemed particularly important to have a comprehensive source of information about living with coronavirus – everything from safety measures to shielding and isolation, together with where to find assistance and provisions and, latterly of course, the implications of the various phases of lockdown release.’
‘The newsletter…. was the fundamental tool for reaching out, regardless of access to other media outlets. It formed, moreover, a base reference that islanders could keep and refer back to as necessary.’