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Ministers attacked over IT spending
8:19am Friday 7th February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Government ministers have been criticised for spending taxpayers' money on "expensive gadgets" after it was revealed they had paid over half a million pounds for Apple products.
Since the general election, Whitehall departments have splashed out on 464 iPads, 314 iPhones, 160 Mac computers and two iPod touches.
This brought the total spend to at least £640,000, as five departments including the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Education and the Foreign Office all refused to divulge how much they had spent.
Some of the biggest spenders included the Department for Health, which purchased 294 iPhones and 117 iPads and the Ministry of Justice which treated itself to 107 iPads and 86 Mac computers.
The figures, gained through Freedom of Information requests, also showed that the Home Office had spent over £48,000 in 2013 alone on 100 iPads, three iPhones and six Macbooks.
Labour criticised the spending, saying that while David Cameron might enjoy playing Fruit Ninja, ministers should put their iPads down and concentrate on achieving higher living standards.
A Labour source said: "Ministers are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer pounds on expensive gadgets but still don't have the answers to Britain's cost-of-living crisis.
"Hard-pressed families will think this looks like huge indulgence during these tough times.
"David Cameron may love playing 'fruit ninja' in his spare time but his ministers really need to put their iPads down and start work on a plan to earn our way to higher living standards for all."
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, also criticised the Government, saying there were less expensive alternatives available.
"Departments have a duty to tell taxpayers what they are spending their money on so they can be scrutinised over how they spend it," he said.
"iPads are a premium product with a premium price tag, it's vital their purchase represents value for money - especially when there are less expensive options available."
But the Government defended itself, saying modern technology was helping them to save money and get the best value for taxpayers.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "At the time of the last general election, Whitehall was spending far too much on IT. As part of our long-term economic plan, we are reforming the way we buy this technology - saving taxpayers over half a billion pounds last year.
"Hard-working people expect us to get best value for their money so we won't apologise for using modern technology which saves money and helps civil servants do their jobs, providing the services on which we all rely."