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Document Costs

Volume 406: debated on Thursday 12 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 1002W, on document costs, what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of publications which were not handled through the Department's publicity division in each of the last five years for which information is available. [118605]

[holding answer 10 June 2003]: The Department produces a large number of publications each year, ranging from small leaflets to larger booklets. The large majority of these are related to information or guidance on specific areas of policy, targeted at practitioners or stakeholders such as schools, LEAs, school governors, etc.The Department's publicity division uses a bespoke financial management system, which records expenditure through their system of framework contracts with a range of suppliers of paid publicity services which is categorised according to media, including design and print.Expenditure by individual policy teams which is not processed through the publicity division system is not categorised in the same way, (although the same framework contracts are used), and therefore the information requested on document costs produced through them is not available.There has been no change to the way the Department produces or procures its publications in the past five years. We have a duty to consult on and inform our customers, stakeholders and interest groups of policy changes and developments. The volume, and by implication the level of expenditure, is largely dependent on the level of activity on policy initiatives which the Department needs to communicate to these groups.The Department operates under strict targets to control and reduce the number of paper-based communication to schools and LEAs to help reduce the bureaucratic burden. In the current academic year (September 2002 to July 2003), the volume of printed material sent directly to schools is on course to be reduced by 50 per cent. against the corresponding figure sent to schools in the last academic year.