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Our Priorities for 2021/2022

“…this moment also gives us a much greater chance to be radical and to do things differently… to build back better”

—Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 30 June 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivering a speech at a lectern with the words "Build, Build, Build"

Prime Minister’s Priorities for 2021/2022: Build Back Better

The Prime Minister has set out a clear roadmap for how the government will build back better – not only beating COVID-19, but coming back stronger than ever before.

In 2021 we will run fewer, bigger and better campaigns that support the following priorities:

  1. Beating COVID-19 and Backing the NHS: saving lives and protecting the NHS by encouraging people to take better care of their health.
  2. Build Back Better: a focus on economic recovery, supporting employment through the Plan for Jobs and ensuring investment levels up opportunity.
  3. Build Back Fairer: increasing opportunities across the country, with better education, housing, skills and infrastructure.
  4. Build Back Safer: upholding law and order, improving national security and strengthening our borders.
  5. Build Back Stronger: capitalising on post-Brexit opportunities, promoting our global interests and building the strength of the Union.
  6. Build Back Greener: making green industries fit for the future, hosting a successful COP26 and leading the way globally to reach Net Zero by 2050.
  7. Delivering for the UK: promoting essential and statutory government activity and informing the public of critical information.

Outlined below is some of the communication activity planned for the coming year that will help to deliver these key priorities, as well as recent successes that we will build on.

Beating COVID-19 and Backing the NHS

We will continue to drive changes in public behaviours to help beat COVID-19, protect the NHS and save lives. Our public health campaigns throughout the pandemic have been consistently effective. Our COVID-19 communications are estimated to have saved between 22,629 and 27,658 lives and prevented between 1.5 and 1.8 million infections between April and December 2020.* The NHS Covid App was downloaded over 13 million times in the first seven days – more downloads than any other country in the world.

This year, the UK-wide vaccination programme is at the heart of the government’s strategy to manage COVID-19. The UK government has secured over 400 million doses of vaccines and we will continue to drive vaccine confidence and uptake.

Our communication will also support the NHS to have the workforce it needs through the We Are The NHS recruitment campaign. Last year, the campaign helped 34,190 people onto nursing degree courses, a 20% increase on the previous year. Additionally, over 900,000 new people accessed the adult social care microsite, with 10% going on to search for a job on the page. This year, our health recruitment campaigns will expand to help recruit 26,000 primary care staff and fill 87,000 other vacancies across the NHS.

We help to mitigate pressures on the NHS through our Help Us Help You campaign, which continues this year. Last year’s flu vaccine campaign contributed to over 80% of over 65s taking up the vaccine – the highest proportion ever. Our Better Health campaign will also build on its success in 2021 by encouraging people to take care of their own health. Since launching in July 2020, there have been 750,000 downloads of the 12 Week Weight Loss Plan app and 1.47 million Every Mind Matters mental health action plans completed. What’s more, over 700,000 people reported making an attempt to quit smoking as a result of our communication.

*Figures calculated using Wavemaker econometric modelling on social distancing / HFS campaigns that ran between Apr–Dec 2020, based on YouGov polling data for Cabinet Office, ONS and MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis assumptions on infection and transmission rates. Range of infections prevented and lives saved based on average R rate range in this period.

Build Back Better

In 2021, we will continue to support the economy and drive recovery as we emerge from the pandemic. Last year, the government spent £280 billion on an unprecedented package of economic support to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and public services across the UK.

The COVID-19 Business Support campaign reached 94% of all SMEs last year and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has supported 10 million jobs to date. On top of this, over 1.4 million people visited our Jobhelp advice website and, since applications opened in November, our Kickstart campaign has led to over 700 firms offering job placements to 120,000 young people at risk of long-term unemployment.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak sitting at a table with two young people, all wearing Kickstart hoodies

In 2021, our communication will support the government’s continued commitment to businesses and the employment of individuals across the entire country. At the centre of this is our Plan for Jobs campaign, which reached over 26 million people (leading to almost 185 million impressions) in just two months at the start of this year. The campaign helps all sectors and regions to support, protect and create jobs – whether that’s through promoting T Levels to improve skills, recruiting for the Armed Forces or access to Universal Credit. This year, we will also continue to back businesses across the United Kingdom, increasing business confidence to invest, innovate and export. We will ensure that companies can seize new global trading opportunities and that the United Kingdom remains one of the best places in the world to live, invest and do business with.

At the heart of Build Back Better is supporting and spreading opportunity across the country. Our communication will demonstrate how the government is delivering for every part of the UK – from investing in new hospitals, schools and infrastructure, to ensuring everyone can get the skills they need to access opportunities wherever they live. Our Young People’s Futures campaign will bring together products, policies and campaigns aimed at the education and employment of young people for the first time, to make sure that every young person – wherever they are in the UK – can access opportunities more easily.

Build Back Fairer

2021 brings a unique opportunity to build back fairer, levelling up opportunities for all citizens through better education, housing, skills and infrastructure.

Our campaigns this year will work to build a fairer society for all, spreading opportunity to support social mobility, improving financial awareness, championing fair treatment of disabled people and ensuring equal rights at work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask and reading a book to a girl in school uniform.

This begins with securing the right start in life for children: last year, over 41,400 people entered initial teacher training, and this year we will continue to motivate talented people to join. Our inspirational Get Into Teaching campaign will build on the 23% increase in initial teacher training applicants achieved last year, and we will continue to support existing teachers to thrive.

Our Frontline recruitment campaign will also continue to attract graduates and career changers to social work, helping to improve the life chances of children and families facing challenges. 2021 applications closed in November 2020 – the earliest date in the organisation’s history and at 115% of their overall recruitment target.

Everyone should be able to access services to improve their family’s financial, housing and employment prospects. Through increasing uptake of digital skills training, early years support, debt advice, and help to buy a home, we will make this a reality for every citizen.

Building back fairer means equality for all: last year, our Black History Month digital campaign, #OurHistoryOurHeroes, reached almost 8 million people, highlighting the achievements of Black public servants throughout history. Furthermore, publishing the National Strategy for Disabled People and our Health and Benefits Green Paper this spring will put the needs of disabled people at the forefront of the country’s recovery.

Our communication will highlight the benefits and protections afforded to workers. We will promote the increases in the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, as well as the rights of all workers to have access to entitlements such as holiday pay, shared parental leave and safer working practices.

Build Back Safer

Our communication will help make the United Kingdom a safer, more secure place to live and work. Last year, the police recruitment campaign achieved its first target of 6,000 additional officers across England and Wales one month ahead of schedule. This year, we will continue to support the recruitment of 20,000 total additional frontline police officers by 2023. Our campaigns also help to strengthen our prison and probation services. Last year, the probation officer campaign achieved its application target within two weeks of launching, and 2,000 jobs were filled via the prison officer recruitment campaign.

Home Secretary Priti Patel walks past a line of socially distanced police recruits during their Pass Out Parade

Now that we have left the European Union and secured a deal, our points-based immigration system campaign will continue raising awareness of the UK’s new fairer immigration system, which last year led to 85% of targeted employers reporting they had taken action to prepare.

Internationally, we will continue to promote stability alongside groups such as the UN, and as hosts of the G7 Summit, we will encourage leaders to build back better from COVID-19. Additionally, our campaigns will continue to recruit entrants into the Armed Forces, as they keep the peace around the world, tackling terrorism and keeping Britain safe.

We will also help to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Last year, the #YouAreNotAlone campaign increased visits to the GOV.UK support page for domestic abuse by over 1,000% during the first two weeks. This year, following the release of the Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy, we will work across government and with stakeholders to protect people from abuse in all its forms. Our new communication approach, Stopping Abuse Together, looks to increase disclosure and the number of reports by providing support and advice all in one place, as well as preventing offenders committing abuse in the first place.

Finally, the threat from online harms cannot be ignored. Last year, the Cyber Aware campaign helped to achieve 4.5 million reports of cyber scams, and Don’t Feed The Beast led to a 19% increase in confidence among campaign recognisers in their ability to spot fake social media profiles. This year, we will continue our work increasing resilience to cyber attacks and helping the public protect themselves against hostile state activity.

Build Back Stronger

2021 is a seminal year for the UK. It is the first time in over 40 years that we are an independent trading nation, and it is the year that we take on the G7 Presidency and the 26th COP Summit in Glasgow. We will mark the UN’s 75th anniversary and chair the UN Security Council; bring together the Global Partnership for Education to finance girls’ education; participate in the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting; and mark the maiden deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson greeting G7 leaders on a video conference with G7 logo and flags in the backdrop

Our communication will help to deliver vital international priorities, whether through our COVID-19 vaccines campaign to promote equitable access to vaccines in 92 developing countries, or our Girls’ Education campaign, that will build on this government’s manifesto commitment of getting 40 million more girls into school. We will showcase the UK’s role as a force for good in the world by seizing the opportunities of Britain’s presidency of the G7 and the UN climate change conference, COP26, which we will host in Glasgow.

We will also support our economic recovery from the pandemic by persuading individuals and businesses overseas to trade, invest, visit, study, and work in the UK. Last year, our GREAT Ready to Trade marketing campaigns secured millions of pounds’ worth of expenditure, across over 50 inward investment projects, and created demand that led to over 11,000 queries – 143% of the target. We must also continue to secure our influence and attractiveness to younger generations: when the time is right, we will continue promoting Study UK, which last year targeted students in 16 key markets and reached over 12 million people.

March 2021 saw the publication of the Integrated Review, which articulates the government’s ambition for the UK’s role in the world and the long-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy.

Building back stronger also means ensuring that people overseas perceive the UK as a Union of four nations which work together as a credible, problem-solving partner in the international arena and a science superpower.

Finally, we must strengthen the Union through highlighting the fact that action taken by the UK government helps to solve local problems, that we are better as a whole than the sum of our parts, and through building pride in the work done collectively as a Union of nations to help others around the world. We are stronger together, and our campaigns will clearly communicate the practical, economic and emotional ties that make us a truly United Kingdom. For example, this year, we will mark the Centenary of Northern Ireland and showcase the stories of the nation’s people and places.

Build Back Greener

Last year, the Prime Minister outlined his 10 Point Plan to work with communities and businesses to achieve a greener, more prosperous UK. Through ambitious activity such as investing in carbon capture usage and advancing offshore wind, the UK will lead the way in starting a Green Industrial Revolution, supporting hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

A key milestone in our journey will be the COP26 conference in Glasgow, where we will bring together world leaders to accelerate climate action. We will use this platform to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to going green – for example, our aim to become the world’s number one centre for green technology and finance, and planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year by 2025. We will lead this work through partnerships with civil society, business, communities and leaders across the globe to drive progress and ultimately, reach Net Zero by 2050.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Sir David Attenborough sitting against a backdrop with an image of the globe

Throughout 2021 and beyond, we will use communication to drive both citizen and business engagement in beating climate change. We will increase the momentum of the Together for Our Planet campaign, partnering with businesses and driving at least 100,000 pledges to take action ahead of the conference in November. We will drive awareness and understanding of COP26, build trust and credibility in the actions we’re taking to combat climate change, and start to lay the foundations for the collective long-term behaviour change needed to tackle the issue. In its first three months, Together for Our Planet reached over 4 million people and generated over 1,200 pieces of international coverage in the run up to the UK-hosted Climate Ambition Summit in December. The summit ultimately delivered 24 new commitments from countries to eliminate their own contribution to climate change.

We will also highlight how making small changes can make a world of difference – whether that’s motivating the public to increase their uptake of walking and cycling through the Active Travel campaign, using less plastic, or raising awareness of the new E10 fuel, resulting in lower emissions and cleaner air for all.

Delivering for the UK

We will promote essential government activity, ensuring our citizens have access to vital services and keeping them informed about critical legislation. From guidance on health and safety at work to information on NHS screening, our campaigns are essential to the smooth running of the country.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a hi vis jacket and helmet at a construction site

Our Check Change Go campaign helped to drive 55 million visits to the GOV.UK Transition site last year. In the final phase of the Transition campaign, we will continue to support businesses and citizens to trade with and travel to the EU and will ensure that businesses and citizens are aware of new arrangements, as well as highlighting the new opportunities that lie ahead.

The DVLA Online campaign will help drivers to access critical services more easily and quickly – from getting a replacement vehicle log book, to updating the address on your driving licence – while the DVLA Vehicle Excise Duty campaign will reduce the number of untaxed vehicles on the road, helping to fund essential public services.

Our Self Assessment campaign will drive 12 million customers to submit their tax return on time, leading to billions of pounds for public services as well as helping customers to avoid penalties. We will also raise the profile of support available to customers who are worried about payment.

The THINK! campaign will continue to reduce the behaviours that lead to road casualties, challenging the social norms behind drink driving and tackling critical issues such as speeding and mobile phone use among young men. The campaign will also ensure that any greater uptake of cycling and walking happens safely, encouraging behaviours that protect those most vulnerable on the road.

Last updated 30 March 2021