TEST Valley Borough Council spent more than £140,000 in postage and stationery costs in the last financial year, but has made significant savings on paper in the past half decade.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed the borough council spent £124,870 on postage, and £20,770 on stationery – a total of £145,640.

The figures relate to the financial year 2020/21.

However, as previously reported, the figures totalled more than £200,000 in the 2015/16 financial year, with £153,109 spent on postage, and £49,789 on stationery.

Richard Kidd, a former Andover town councillor, originally requested the information and believes the costs could be cut down even further.

He said: “I am glad the figures are a lot lower, but the council still need to make more use of email.

“These figures are still far too high.”

However, the local authority was applauded by centre-right thinktank the Tax Payers’ Alliance.

The organisation’s own research into local authority printing cost changes during the pandemic (April 2020 - February 2021) showed that Test Valley reduced its printing costs by 38 per cent, producing a saving of £3,731.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “The council should be congratulated for these stationery savings.

“Taxpayers are fed up with their council tax bills shooting up, but Covid-19 has revealed some simple savings which can relieve financial pressures and offer environmental benefits too.

“Test Valley must lock in these reductions for the long term, and pass the advantages of staying paperless onto hard-pressed residents."

When asked about the council’s spending on postage and stationery, TVBC finance portfolio holder Cllr Maureen Flood said: “As a council, we are always trying to encourage our residents to sign up to email services to help save paper and the other environmental and cost benefits that come with that. In the two years leading up to the start of October 2021, the number of residents signed up to our electronic council tax and business rates service almost trebled, so we are making progress.

“However, we are bound by some legalities surrounding some of our functions as a local authority, such as with the election process as just one example, where paper correspondence is compulsory. We would strongly encourage anyone who is able to sign up to our email systems to receive bills, renew subscriptions and a host of other things.”

Residents can sign up to paperless billing here: https://www.testvalley.gov.uk/benefitsandcounciltax/counciltax/counciltaxpaperless