South Thanet’s Craig Mackinlay MP has told MPs that some public sector organisations are paying up to seven times more for a ream of photocopier paper than others. The figures came to light at the beginning of 2018 after the MP and the TaxPayers’ Alliance submitted freedom of information requests to NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups, police and fire services, and various local councils.
At Cabinet Office Questions earlier today, Craig asked what action the Government is taking to ensure that the public sector spends taxpayers’ money more wisely in the future, not just regarding the purchase of paper, but in respect of everything they spend.
In response, the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office and Minister for Implementation, Oliver Dowden CBE MP, promised to consider Craig’s report and respond directly. The Minister went on: “It is precisely for this reason of getting good value for the taxpayer that we established the Crown Commercial Service to increase savings to the taxpayer by centralising buyer requirements for common goods and services such as photocopier paper.”
Speaking after Cabinet Office Questions, Craig Mackinlay MP, said:
“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.
“A simple internet search reveals availability for just one ream to the public at around £2.00, so why are the public sector paying as much as £5? 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.”
Both Craig and the TaxPayers’ Alliance have previously called on the public sector to consider whether they can do more to spend taxpayers’ money more efficiently in the light of these findings.