Councils spend more on paper despite expensive iPads


TWO Scottish councils who lavished their top bosses with brand new iPads have failed to cut down on printing costs as planned.

Local authorities in Edinburgh and Stirling spent £55,800 on top of the range tablet computers in May this year in an effort to reduce paper waste and save money.

But shocking statistics, released under Freedom of Information, have revealed that both bodies actually spent more on printing costs since handing out the iPads, with taxpayers paying out thousands of pounds extra in a three month period.

The councils have failed after dishing out the gadgets (Pic: Robert Scobie)


Pressure groups and politicians have been left fuming at the councils “enormous waste” of public money and called for local authority spending to be monitored more closely.

Edinburgh and Stirling were adamant that handing out iPads would help bosses to cut down on paper waste, arguing that there were would no need to print meeting agendas as staff could view them digitally.

Edinburgh City Council spent £47,000 earlier this year on iPads for 58 councillors and 25 council bosses – while Stirling Council spent £8,800 on electronic tablets for 22 councillors.

In May authorities in Edinburgh said the iPads would save them “£400,000 over the next five years” while Stirling argued they would make cut back “£450,000-a-year on running costs”.

But according to the projections of the latest quarterly figures, bosses in the Capital look set to spend an extra £168,000 on printing costs and Stirling will spend an extra £89,479.


Four football pitches

The investigation also found that Stirling have continued to print 202 copies of agendas and minutes of meetings just like they did last year.

Both councils were asked how may reams of paper they used between May and July of 2011 and how much it cost – then asked the same question for this year.

A ream of printing paper is a pack of 500 A4 sheets and one tree makes 17 reams.

Stirling Council’s 2011 figures show that they spent £1,992.66 on 655 reams of paper – this is works out as 327, 500 sheets.

But in 2012 these figures increased by more than three times as much as they spent £6,466.61 on 2330 reams – a massive increase to 1,165,000 sheets of paper.

Last year’s figures for Edinburgh City Council show that they spent £91,238 on 78,948 reams – or 39,474,000 sheets of A4.

This year the figure increased to £99,638 on 80,258 reams – this amounted to 40,129,000 sheets of paper.

This means that Stirling has gone from using 39 trees to 137 and Edinburgh City Council has gone from 4,644 to 4,721.

According to information given by the Forestry Commission the amount of trees used by both councils this year would have covered four football pitches.



Eben Wilson, director of TaxpayerScotland, said: “Across Scotland’s public services, there seems to be a general lack of concern about what may seem like small overheads but add up to enormous waste paid for by taxpayers.

“When top bosses and councillors show a disregard for their own objectives we can be rightly angered by this.

“They simply must work harder to save more money on all the little things that add up to our high burden of taxation”.

The Scottish Conservative local government spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said more should have been done to make the idea more “worthwhile”.

She said: “I can understand that councils want to keep up with technology and that’s to be lauded.

“However, having provided this technology, there should then have been a process to cut down on the spending on printing to ensure this project was worthwhile, and it should be regularly monitored.”

Stirling Council said they changed paper supplier at the same time the iPads were introduced.

A spokeswoman said: “From May 2012, the arrangements for the supply of paper were changed.

“The Copy Centre are now responsible for the supply of paper to localised MFD equipment within Headquarters office properties.

“The figures quoted also includes paper used within the Copy Centre for print work.”

A Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman said: “We only introduced iPads over the summer and continued to print papers until September as part of their phasing in, so it is not surprising that this information, gathered before the use of iPads was fully established, does not yet show a decrease in paper usage.

“The iPads will reduce printing costs significantly in the future and we aim save more than £400,000 over the next five years.”