How on Earth Did Manchester Council Spend Over £130k on iPads Last Year?

By Tom Pritchard on at

We're all very aware that some people tend to go a bit gaga for the latest Apple offering, but at least they're spending their own money. Not like Manchester City Council which, as it turns out, managed to spend over £130,000 of taxpayers' money on 349 iPads in the 2013/14 financial year -- a 543 per cent rise from the £20,335 they spent on iPads in 2011/12.

That is a horrifying revelation, not to mention a disgusting waste of money. I know people love Apple devices with a fiery passion, but even the most fanatic Apple fanboys will agree that they aren't cheap. The average cost of each iPad bought in the last year is £372.49, meaning the Council probably didn't buy the cheapest available models either.

Manchester Council has of course defended the spending, claiming that by giving staff iPads they're saving the taxpayers a lot of money. The Council claims that it will save £600,000 a year from offset costs related to printing and travel, as well as saving its officers time because apparently having an iPad means you don't have to come into the office as much.

Let's just assume that this figure is accurate, and distributing tablets does indeed save £600,000 a year. Why did it have to buy iPads? I can understand that they do an important job and don't want to rely on shoddy dirt cheap tech, but what about reputable companies which offer products for a fraction of the cost? The Google Nexus range, Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, heck, even Tesco's Hudl.

Here's a thought -- why not pester Google to give us a few thousand free Nexus tablets as punishment for being able to not pay its taxes?

In fact, why do you even need a tablet? What's wrong with using a smartphone? They do pretty much everything that a tablet can do. Plus you know, phone calls and text messages.

I can think of a couple of reasons why it thinks spending so much money on unnecessary things is acceptable. It is possible that the person in charge of making these decisions has less technological knowledge than a rock, and somehow thinks iPads are unique. Though it's more likely that a bunch of people in the council wanted the latest gizmos, but didn't want to have to pay for them out of their own pockets.

What I find interesting is that during my research, I couldn't find any figures relating to other aspects of Manchester Council's computer spending. But similar stories show that this sort of wild spending isn't restricted to Manchester, nor is it a recent development. A couple of years ago Bury Council decided that it would be a good idea to spend £9,000 on iPads to optimise the bin collection routes. That was until someone asked what was wrong with using a clipboard and a paper map.

I can understand the need to adapt for the 21st Century, but sometimes it's just not necessary to go the whole hog. iPads look shiny and amazing, but they're no more practical than an Android tablet which costs half the price. Normally I would suggest using some common sense, but this is politics. There's more chance of seeing a pig fly past my window. [Manchester Evening News]