The amount Reading Borough Council spends on paper and postage each year has been revealed thanks to a Freedom of Information request.

The council spends £150,000 in postage and £10,000 on paper annually according to figures obtained in the request.

The amounts have been revealed as part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Reading resident Sam Hall, who asked the council about its document signature process.

The council does not currently use any form of electronic signature tool, therefore all documents that require a signature have to be printed and signed instead.

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Mr Hall also asked whether the council has any active projects or initiatives aimed at reducing the number of paper-based processes.

The council’s information officer replied: “We have a project in train to procure electronic document signature capability.”

The process is being led by Martin Chalmers, the council’s chief digital and information officer.

A strategy for how the council aims to reduce its paper based processes is laid out in the ‘Connected Reading: The digital heart of the Thames Valley’ document, which expresses a number of aims to make more council procedures completable online between 2021 and 2024.

One of the key aims of the strategy is to move more procedures online, particularly for businesses.

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A spokesperson for Reading Borough Council said: “We have made great strides in recent years with the digitalisation of many Council processes which have made the interaction between residents and the Council easier, quicker  and more efficient.

“There will always be more to achieve in this area as technology and software develops.

“We are for example investing in the further development of our website to extend its already significant range of services and make them even easier to access and use for people.

“Brand new Council services – such as our free bulky waste collection service for residents – are being designed to be digital-first.

“Another element of this wider piece of work is the procurement of electronic document signature capability.

“This project is in train and is currently at the stage where we are capturing user requirements and conducting market engagement, with a view to running a formal procurement targeting award later this calendar year.

“The project’s initial focus is on streamlining the contract signature process.

“We will provide an update to Policy Committee later this year in the Autumn, to report on progress and next steps.”

A list of answered and active FOIs to Reading Borough Council can be found on the website ‘What Do They Know’.

The Connected Reading strategy will be reviewed in September this year.