Improved procurement at a local authority in England has delivered major savings to taxpayers. Surrey County Council has cut costs by £27 million over the past financial year thanks to its drive for better deals.

The council says this equates to saving local taxpayers nearly £13,000 every hour for a year by driving harder bargains.

"Tough negotiating with the likes of IT businesses, building firms and energy suppliers helped the council save £27 million in the last financial year," the local authority said. The sum, which beat the £25 million target, equates to almost £12,980 an hour or more than £216 a minute in a working week.

Savings from striking better deals with suppliers have now risen to £83 million over the past three years. It leaves the authority on track to reduce its annual budget by around £250 million by 2016.

Denise Le Gal, Surrey County Council's cabinet member for business services, said: "We're determined to get the best possible deal for Surrey's taxpayers and saving £27 million in a year at a rate of almost £13,000 an hour by striking better deals bears testament to that.

She paid tribute to council employees in procurement jobs for their work in delivering the savings.

"We've now saved £83 million in the past three years through using our negotiating skills and we'll continue to focus on finding new and innovative ways of doing things more efficiently while providing excellent services to the people of Surrey," added Ms Le Gal.

Surrey is not the first council to find savings from improving its purchasing function. In addition, across the government as a whole, the improvement in procurement has been significant.

The Efficiency and Reform 2012/13 summary report revealed £3.8 billion was slashed from Whitehall spending, beating the total savings target for the year by 25 per cent.

It revealed £800 million was cut by improving supplier relations, while a further £1 billion was saved by centralising procurement across the public sector.