THE Ministry of Defence has insisted it is seeking best value in its supply contracts after it emerged it paid £22 each for lightbulbs available for only 65p.
Defence chiefs are also said to have shelled out £103 each for screws, believed to be on sale online for £2.60.
The spending came to light only days after the Government detailed how it planned to make 11,000 redundancies across the armed forces.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox criticised the inflated prices as showing a “lack of common sense” and evidence of a waste of taxpayers’ money by the previous Labour government.
A soldier who works in the stores at a UK base told reporters: “You’re talking about a fortune for these bulbs. If I order 100, that’s over two grand. But you can pick them up for 65p each, the exact same ones. If people paid attention to simple things like this, they could save a lot of money – and maybe jobs.”
According to the soldier, who was not named, specialist contractors source items for the military and add their costs on to the price when large savings could be made by buying in bulk.
Dr Fox told paper: “When money is tight and we need to protect the front line, waste is inexcusable.
“This is classic evidence of how Labour wasted taxpayers’ money and shows a complete lack of common sense. No wonder the last government left the MoD with a budget deficit of £38bn.”
An MoD spokesman said: “Given the current financial situation, we are looking at existing contracts to ensure value for money and taking steps to make efficiency savings.”
It has also emerged that taxpayers face a £150,000 bill for pulping thousands of copies of a new book deemed a threat to national security. The money will come from funds generated through merchandising and licensing, the MoD said.