Whitehall departments still inconsistent on prices

14 September 2012

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14 September 2012 | Anna Reynolds

Government departments are still paying a variety of prices for basic items such as A4 paper and energy, according to research by campaign group the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA).

The study, carried out between October 2011 and the end of December 2011, found the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) paid the most per standard box of A4 paper, paying £12.43 for a box of 2,500 sheets. This was £3.50 per box more than the best performing department - the Department of Health (DH) - that paid £8.93 per box. Most departments paid £2 more per box than the DH.

BIS also paid the most for its energy costs, paying an average of £110 per megawatt hour. The Department for Transport, the Department for Education and the Home Office all paid more than £50 per megawatt hour more for their energy than the Ministry of Defence, which paid £34 per megawatt hour.

Matthew Sinclair, CEO of the TPA, said in a statement: “It is especially dispiriting that BIS – a department which ought to be championing the cause of efficiency and cutting out waste – comes out so badly in the latest research. Ministers have been talking for two years about making central procurement more efficient and whilst some welcome progress has been made, it is now clear that serious work remains to be done if best value is to be secured for taxpayers.”

The study said Whitehall should be leading the way in cutting costs across the public sector and urged ministers to prompt their officials to learn from departments who have secured better value.

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