Vouchers for frugal civil servants
Three gift vouchers were handed to civil servants in the first eight months of a scheme rewarding money-saving ideas, new figures show.
The successful workers from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) received Love2shop vouchers valued at either £25 or £50, which are accepted at several high street and online retailers plus attractions.
These include Boux Avenue - listed as bringing "romance, seduction and a little slice of style to your boudoir" - the Chelsea FC Megastore, Alton Towers, Toys R Us, HMV and Boots.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles launched the scheme last July in an attempt to reward proposals which cut his department's costs.
DCLG said "a number" of money-saving ideas were submitted by staff, although it has yet to confirm how many it received.
Three of the ideas received an award in the first eight months, a Freedom of Information request by the Press Association shows.
A further six ideas were also being considered as of last month.
DCLG said a £50 voucher was given to a member of its communications team for reducing and examining spending on newspaper subscriptions and other items to secure savings of £40,000 a year.
A local government finance officer was awarded £25 after suggesting stationery across the department be "surrendered and pooled" as part of DCLG's move to share a headquarters with the Home Office.
DCLG said this proposal offered the potential to save cash by preventing multiple orders and a build-of surplus stationery stock.
A planning directorate worker also received £25 for proposing that more documents should be submitted digitally in order to save the department and local authorities "significant amounts on postage", the FOI response said.
Local authorities have been encouraged by the chief planner to send in electronic versions of documents rather than paper copies, according to DCLG.
It added data will be gathered to assess how much money could potentially be saved by the change in approach.
Of the six other proposals under review, DCLG said: "One of the ideas includes how staff with their own season tickets could be encouraged to use their right to a discount on off-peak travel, and how this can be built into our travel procurement process."
On the scheme in general, the department said: " Staff have been asked to put money saving ideas to their director or the director general for finance and corporate services who will then consider whether it is worthy of an award.
"The minimum award will be £25 and the maximum £50 depending on the merit of the idea and will be decided by the relevant director.
"The department has made a further call for money saving ideas which emphasises the need to look at policy and processes within the department and not just efficiency savings in the administration budget.
"We are putting together a task and finish group, made up of volunteers from across the department, to look at the best ways to reach out to staff and encourage more bright ideas."