NEW RESEARCH: Whitehall still paying over the odds for basics like A4 paper and energy
Sep 2012 14

We can today reveal that despite much vaunted efficiency drives across Whitehall, departments continue to pay vastly differing prices for basic items such as A4 paper and energy. The differences between departments’ basic procurement costs remain even after the Efficiency Review by Sir Philip Green in October 2010 which highlighted the problem.

Click here to read the full research including breakdowns for all Whitehall departments

The key findings of this research are:

  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills paid the most per standard box of A4 paper, paying £12.43 per box of 2,500 sheets.
  • This is £3.50 per box more than the best performing department, which was the Department for Health. It bought boxes of paper for £8.93 each.
  • Most departments paid well over £2 more per box of A4 paper than the Department of Health.
  • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 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 over £50 per megawatt hour more for their energy than the best performing department, the Ministry of Defence. It paid £34 per megawatt hour of energy.

Click here to read the full research including breakdowns for all Whitehall departments

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers will be astounded at the discrepancies that remain between government departments in the cost of these basics. Those running departments need to be able to show that they can keep costs down on smaller items of expenditure if people are to have faith that they can secure the best deals when it comes to multi-million pound projects. 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 this 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.”

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  • Barry Harding

    Well done TPA for highlighting these differences. Once upon a time HMSO purchased centrally and that was inefficient. What is now needed is exchange of info on prices between procurers in different Depts.

    • blarg1987

      Assuming that commercially confidential does not rear its ugly head, be interesting to know how much of this is fixed rate deals / loss leaders etc and how often they have to renew the contract.

      • Colin L

        disclosure within Govt does not infringe confidentiality. Mind you with stupid Govt lawyers who knows!!

      • Richard Baron

        I don’t see why one should have any concerns about commercial confidentiality. You just tell suppliers that if they sell to central or local government, the contracts will be available for public inspection. Commercial confidentiality is not a law of nature. If it is in the contract, fine. If it is not (and it never should be for government contracts, except for reasons of national security), it doesn’t apply.

    • Colin L

      Well it’s hardly efficient now. For all we know they are ordering from a) their relatives and friends and or b) for back handers against taxpayer funded credit cards/ purchase orders. .

  • Colin L

    Where’s the central purchasing function that business have? call off orders are needed. Instead ineffective, separate procurement prevails.
    Unbelievable. What has the Office of Govt Commerce been doing all these years? As with public sector “redundancy” – where it doesn’t pay for anyone to work after 55 as they get 2 years salary and pension accelorated to age 60. Then enjoy another job in the public sector without having to pay the redundancy etc back. Unbelieveable, too.

  • Paul

    Where is Jim Hacker?