Craig Mackinlay MP and the Taxpayers’ Alliance join forces to highlight excessive paper costs incurred by public sector

Some public sector organisations are paying up to seven times more for paper than necessary according to figures provided to freedom of information requests by South Thanet MP, Craig Mackinlay, and the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The highest price paid by a local authority per ream of 80 grams per square meter (GSM) paper was £4.39 by Stratford-on-Avon Council. Runnymede Borough Council, on the other hand, were able to purchase some of its paper for just 75p per ream .

The highest price paid by an NHS trust was £4.65 by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. The lowest price paid was £1.40 by Colchester Hospital University NHS Trust.

Similarly, in respect of higher education, the University of Manchester bought reams of paper for £4.40, while Oxford Brookes University found a supplier who charged them just £1.57 per ream.

All figures are from 2016.

Whilst the amount of paper used by public sector bodies, after adjusting for their size, varies greatly, there appears to be little correlation between the amount of paper purchased and the prices being paid suggesting many organisations are not exploiting potential purchasing economies of scale.

Both Mr Mackinlay and the TaxPayers’ Alliance are calling on the public sector to consider whether they can do more to spend taxpayers’ money more efficiently in the light of these figures.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“I think hard-pressed taxpayers will be more than a little concerned to learn that many public sector bodies are not getting value for money from suppliers when purchasing simple, everyday items such as paper. I chose standard 80 gsm paper for this study as it is an item we can all relate to. A simple internet search reveals availability for just one ream to the public at around £2.00. What other basic items are public bodies paying through the nose for?

“These figures come after several years of spending restraint and at a time when all quarters of the public sector continue to lobby the Chancellor for more money often claiming that there are no more savings to be made.

“This clearly isn’t true in all instances. 

“I call on the public sector to look at these figures and consider whether they can spend hard-pressed taxpayers’ money more wisely in the future, not just in the purchase of paper, but in respect of all costs and expenses they incur.”

John O'Connell, Chief Executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said:

"It is vanishingly rare to see bureaucrats strive for value for money when purchasing the most basic of stationary items.

“Paying less for paper is not a case of cutting corners, but exercising common sense when using taxpayers' money on office essentials. Money saved here could be spent on essential services or left in the pockets of taxpayers."

A copy of the Public Sector Paper Procurement findings is here.