£12,500 iPad purchase to ‘save council money’

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Sheffield Council is spending £12,500 on iPads and iPhones for officers – but says the plans will save money overall through staff being able to work more efficiently.

The cost was revealed after a request by opposition Liberal Democrat councillors.

Mark Jones, council information management officer, said: “In terms of the iPad / iPhone pilot, our costs are about £12,500.”

The cost of iPads varies between £300 and more than £700, while iPhones are up to £500 if bought individually, although the cost is much less if part of a mobile phone contract.

Coun Andrew Sangar, council Liberal Democrat finance spokesman, said: “Labour politicians guaranteed this pilot would come at no cost to the council.

“However, the information we have shows it’s local taxpayers who are picking up this extortionate bill.

“It’s hard to believe Labour councillors could claim, with a straight face, they didn’t have funding for essential services, when, at the same time, they were splashing cash on fancy gadgets for fat cat council bosses.”

The council said the cost is part of its plans to make staff work more efficiently – allowing them to spend more time out of offices – reducing the cost of office accommodation and allowing them to carry out tasks more quickly.

Ruling Labour councillors say the project is justified because the overall savings will outweigh the cost to the public.

Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council cabinet member for finance, said: “In common with any organisation, sometimes there is an initial cost to changing the way the council works, but it is justifiable to make savings in the longer term.”