Data on tablet purchases reveals DWP as Whitehall’s biggest spender

Figures released to parliament confirm departments’ spending on paper is falling - but some still spend more than £2m a year

By Rebecca Hill

21 Mar 2017

The Department for Work and Pensions spent nearly £4m on iPads and tablets in the past five years, compared with the Wales Office, which purchased just one iPad at a cost of £434, data has shown.

The figures were published in response to a set of written parliamentary questions from Justin Madders, Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston. He asked each department how much it had spent in the past five years on iPads and tablets combined, and on paper.

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The figures showed that the DWP spent the most on iPads and tablets between 2012-13 and 2016-17 (to date), spending some £3.77m on the devices.

Most of these costs were incurred in the 2015-16 financial year, when it forked out £3.66m on tablets alone. An explanatory statement published with the figures said the purchases of tablets related to the decision to use tablets to replace laptops for some users.

The department’s paper costs, meanwhile, reached almost £8m over the five years. But – despite the high figure – this was only the third biggest sum spent on paper, with the Department for Transport and the Ministry of Defence spending £18.5m and £10.3m on paper, respectively.

The next highest spender is the Home Office, which spent around £3m on paper, while all other departments that provided figures on paper costs spent less than £305,000.

However, the figures also show that departments are making progress to targets of cutting down on the use of paper, with some departments halving their spending in this area.

These include: the MoD, which cut its paper costs from £3.2m to £1.6m; the Department for Communities and Local Government, which cut costs from £97,000 to £47,000; the DWP, falling from £2.5m to £1m; and the Treasury, falling from £50,000 to £25,000.

Responding to the figures, a DWP spokeswoman highlighted DWP was the largest government department with over 80,000 staff across 900 sites.

“Tablets were given primarily to staff who needed their laptops replaced," she stated. “All equipment and paper was bought through the Crown Commercial Service ensuring value for money.”

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