Southwark Council has been accused of an “epic” waste of money after splashing out on nearly 2,000 Apple products for its staff and councillors.
The council bought 281 iPad Airs (128G); 999 iPhone 6s; and 700 iPhone SEs, according a Freedom of Information request by Liberal Democrat councillor James Barber.
On Apple’s website, the iPads were priced at £559 each; the iPhone 6s were £499 each, and iPhone SEs were priced at £265.
A Southwark Council spokeswoman this week confirmed the total spend at £722,659.
“It’s close to 2,000 Apple products. It’s waste on an epic scale,” said Cllr Barber, of East Dulwich ward.
“We’ve all been forced to move from Blackberries, which you can now buy for about £20, and move to iPhones and iPads.
“Few FTSE 100 companies would spend this amount of money. I’ve worked for a mobile company and we couldn’t afford to buy the latest Apple products, even when we were making profits like crazy.
“It’s a lot of extra money from the revenue account and from capital expenditure, and it’s on the false promise that everyone will go completely paperless.”
But the council argued that the reduced spend on paper would save £28,000 per year, and have the environmental benefits of using less paper.
“As part of our plans to modernise the council, improve services for residents, and increase data security, we are in the process of upgrading the technology used by staff and councillors,” said Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for finance.
“We are replacing Blackberry handsets, which have become increasingly costly, unreliable and incompatible with a modern ways of working, with iPhones and iPads.
“The change will also bring wider cost-saving and environmental benefits as the council reduces its paper use.
“For instance we will save £28,000 per year by moving to paperless committees – this saving alone means that the replacement programme will pay for itself within two years. The change will bring Southwark in line with the majority of London boroughs where some staff and cabinet members are issued with smart phones and tablets as standard.”