Wigan Council has run up the second largest local authority mobile phone bill in the county over the last three years.
Last financial year’s invoice for the borough stood at £435,597: significantly higher than all other councils in Greater Manchester except the city authority’s bill of £624,671. The next highest was Oldham’s at £286,339.
Wigan’s bill had also increased from 2014/15’s figure of £408,511. But a council spokesman said the figures could not be fairly compared to other authorities’ as they were part of a larger financial strategy which may not be the case in other areas. By reducing the amount of offices it runs while staff use mobiles more, the council had saved £1m.
Deputy chief executive Paul McKevitt, said: “Last year we saved a further £12m from our budget and part of these savings came from allowing staff to work more flexibly which reduced high office accommodation costs. As part of this flexible working plan, more mobiles were issued to staff and by doing this it has successfully saved us £1m.
“As a digital council we encourage our residents, businesses and staff to embrace digital technology and by staff working smarter on mobile phones it is saving us money. We’ve also recently reviewed our mobile phone contract which will save us an additional £200,000 each year.”
TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign manager Harry Davis said: “Taxpayers will be alarmed to see so much of their money being spent on mobile phone bills at a time when significant savings need to be made in local government. The big disparities between the bills for neighbouring authorities carrying out exactly the same functions should lead to people asking some searching questions of their councillors. Councils must ensure they are getting the best possible deals on mobile tariffs so that these bills are kept down and as much of their budget as possible can be spent on frontline services.”