War on Waste: Civil service newspapers


It is not surprising that government departments have subscriptions to most national newspapers. These subscriptions are one way in which civil servants are alert to public views and opinions.

However, this does not mean that departments should spend a limitless amount on subscriptions to the same newspaper. With the additional costs of producing a printed copy, it is understandable why paper subscriptions are significantly more expensive than online subscriptions. Where possible, departments should procure digital corporate subscriptions only, providing civil servants the same service at a normally discounted rate.

This research reveals the amount spent by five departments on paper and online subscriptions, as well as the number of subscriptions and types of newspapers purchased from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

Click here to read the research paper

Key findings

  • From 2016-17 to 2018-19, the total amount spent by five government departments on newspapers was £898,063.
  • 24 printed daily copies of The Times were delivered to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2018-19 an increase of 50 per cent from 2017-18.
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office spent the most on subscriptions, spending £725,286 on 292 national newspaper and online newspaper subscriptions since 2016.
  • The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had the largest year on year increase in spending on newspaper subscriptions with a rise of more than 110 per cent between 2017-18 and 2018-19.
  • The department with the largest number of subscriptions to a single newspaper is the Department for Exiting the European Union, who currently have 100 online subscriptions to the Financial Times.
  • Since 2016, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office bought almost 25 per cent more copies of the Guardian than the Mail. The Department for Exiting the European Union had 100 times more copies of the Financial Times than the Daily Telegraph.

Click here to read the research paper

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