Ministers have called on council employees to “hunt out” instances of their councils paying over the odds for goods and services and “propose ways of getting the most profligate councils to follow the lead of the most thrifty”.
The call follows prime minister David Cameron writing to the UK’s six million public sector workers, urging them to submit their suggestions for delivering better services for less money via the newly launched Spending Challenge website.
A Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) statement said: “Of the £122bn projected to be spent this year by local government, a third is going on outside contracts where massive differences exist between what councils are paying for the same product or service.
“Ministers want local government employees to hunt out these variations and propose ways of getting the most profligate councils to follow the lead of the most thrifty.”
DCLG said the price councils paid for toner cartridges varied by a staggering 745%, while envelopes varied by 348% and paper by 116%.
Mr Pickles said workers at the ‘coalface’ who come into contact with the public day in, day out - the housing officer, the librarian, the dinner lady, the refuse collector, the planning officer - are best placed to spot inefficiencies and come up with radical and innovative ways of doing things differently.