Our Clients: Oxford Union

Oxford Union

Oxford Union Founded in 1823 the Oxford Union is possibly the most famous student-run body in Britain and maybe even the world, with five of its former presidents going on to become Prime Minister. The Union holds weekly showpiece debates modelled on Westminster’s parliamentary procedure, with guest speakers invited by the elected president. Countless controversial subjects have been debated with notable guests including Malcolm X, Richard Nixon, Gerry Adams and O.J. Simpson. The aim of the Union is to promote debate and discussion on any topic, not just at the university but across the globe.

Case Study:

Download a PDF copy of the case study.

Oxford Union

Left to right: Lindsey Warne, Bursar of the Oxford Union and Stuart Spencer, Auditel Consultant

Before Auditel began working with the Oxford Union Society, Lindsey Warne, the Bursar, had various issues with their energy suppliers.

Since 2004 the Union used a buying group to assist with energy procurement. However in late 2005, the group gave Lindsey the bad news that the electricity
and gas suppliers they were using were no longer operational. Lindsey was left to sort out the energy contracts herself, so she hoped to migrate their supplies. This proved unsuccessful for gas which was still not transferred two years later. The buying group recommended Lindsey contact Auditel consultant Stuart Spencer. They were confident he could assist as Stuart had already helped several of their other clients in similar situations.

Lindsey’s first request was to move their gas to the new supplier she had selected two years earlier. However, when Stuart began to explore the chosen supplier’s agreement he actually found out, through subsequent changes, that had she moved to this new supplier, the Union would have been £3,500 worse off. So his next challenge was to find an alternative. By conducting a market tender Stuart selected a supplier that offered 14% savings on original expenditure and low fixed rates for three years.

“Before I used Auditel I was managing our business costs in-house with the help of a buying group. Now Stuart of Auditel looks after the whole process, saving me a considerable amount of time and hassle. I no longer need to find suppliers, implement transfers or even read our gas and electricity meters. Additionally I have over £25,000 to add to our budget to help maintain and improve services and facilities for members of the Oxford Union.” – Lindsey Warne, Bursar

Stuart then moved on to the Union’s electricity and proved that you don’t need to move supplier to realise savings. By negotiating with the incumbent he reduced expenditure in this area by 10.5% for 2006, saving money as well as the hassle of switching supplier. When this contract came up for renewal in 2007, he found further savings of 13.5% for the next two years, this time by conducting a tender and selecting the most suitable new supplier.

As well as finding savings, part of Stuart’s review involved analysing historical expenditure to check billing accuracy. This process meant stabilising
the Union’s meter readings because there was a history of inaccurate readings which had caused unpredictable and erratic billing. Stuart’s explorations revealed staggering rebates totalling £10,000 from overpayments on both gas and
electricity. Subsequently, he has simplified the process of meter reading for the Union. All Lindsey has to do now, is take a digital photo of the front of each meter, email it to Stuart and he makes sure the supplier gets the right figure.

Savings now total £25,000 over three years, which is a substantial amount for Lindsey to add to her budget. Most of the Union’s income is from bar takings and student subscriptions meaning every penny really counts to considerably ease financial pressures on Lindsey and the team. Stuart will continue to provide peace of mind for the Union as he maintains the management of their business costs and continues to ensure they aren’t paying more than necessary in the future.”

Savings Achieved:

Electricity – 24% Saving
Gas – 14% Saving
Electricity and Gas Rebate – £10,000

Total Savings to date: £25,000

Download a PDF copy of the case study.