PRESSURE is mounting on council chiefs to reign in its stationery budget after it was revealed £5 million has been splashed out on the likes of pens, pencils, and paper-clips in the last five years.

Oppositions councillors and campaign groups say it is “extraordinary” millions of pounds is being set aside annually at a time when council tax is being raised in Glasgow.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Glasgow Times and come shortly after councillors agreed to make £42m of savings and hit households with a 4.64 per cent council tax increase.

Councillor Martin McElroy, who represents Springburn/Robroyston, is among those now calling for pencil pushers at the local authority to prioritise spending on more essential services.

He said: “This is an extraordinary amount for the council to be spending on stationery.

Glasgow Times: Cllr Martin McElroy Cllr Martin McElroy

“For the last 10 years Glasgow’s budget has been cut to the bone and any savings that can save jobs and services must be found.

“One way could be to fully utilise technology within the council family, but I have yet to be convinced that the council’s IT contract with CGI is delivering what was promised.

“If we are going to reduce the spending on stationary, we need to invest properly in the IT infrastructure of the council.”

Cllr Thomas Kerr, who represents Shettleston, said he would be raising the issue during the next round of budget discussion.

He added: “With recent budget cuts to Glasgow City Council I’d expect all efficiencies to be explored in order to prioritise funding to frontline services.”

The local authority’s spending on stationery totalled £1,155,807 in 2014/15, £956,613 in 2015/16, £1,006,737 in 2016/17, £1,109,381 in 2017/18, and £1,039,523 between 2018 and 2019.

The spending spree has also been slammed by lobby group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, who have questioned the spending in the face of a council tax hike.

Glasgow Times: Cllr Thomas KerrCllr Thomas Kerr

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “With council tax rates in Glasgow set to soar, ratepayers will struggle to understand how the pens some staff push can cost so much.

“The council should be trying to make savings wherever possible in order to keep council tax down.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “This spending is not about pens, but every bill and statement, every letter, every envelope and every drop of printer ink used to support the delivery of universal services to more than 600,000 people over five years.

“To try and present it as biros for staff is as childish as it is grimly predictable – particularly at a time when those staff are doing everything in their power to maintain critical services in the face of a global pandemic.

“To be clear, the Taxpayers’ Alliance is a private company and political pressure group that refuses to disclose its financial backers – which people, unaccountably, insist on presenting as a campaign representing ordinary people.”

An earlier version of this article reported that the Freedom of Information request had revealed that £5 million had been spent on pens, pencils, paperclips over five years – and that around £1 million was spent on notepads, staples and sticky notes each year.

We have been asked to clarify that these breakdown lists were not based on any information released by the council – and that the Glasgow Times did not request any breakdown of the spending. The £5 million figure was for spending on stationery as a whole, which would include spending on paper for essential bills and letters.