Tories expose reams of expense in Whitehall

5 May 2010

5 May 2010 | Andy Allen

Many government departments are paying inflated prices for office supplies because of the Labour government’s failure to leverage state spending power, a Conservative report claims.

A Tory survey on the typical price paid for a 500-sheet ream of copier paper by government departments found that it was not far off that available at high street retailers for relatively small volume purchases.

“If pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap copier paper cannot be bought properly, more complex purchases are even more likely to be bought by the public sector at well over the odds,” said a Tory spokesman.

The report reveals how the cheapest price paid for 500 sheets of copier paper varies massively across the public sector. The lowest is £1.48 a ream by the South West Regional Development Agency, while the most expensive is £3.29, bought by the Waste and Resources Action Programme. Office supplies retailer Staples sells relatively small volumes of A4 copier paper for £2.29, the Tories said.

A Labour spokesman responded: “We will continue to improve efficiency in the procurement of goods and services by getting government bodies to club together for bulk buying.”

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has frequently stated his belief that Britain’s budget deficit cannot be cut by “curbing spending on paperclips and pot plants”.

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