Posted by: Lee Freeman
For those of you that know me it is not often that watching television causes me to rage uncontrollably, shouting at the screen, unless of course watching England or Brighton and Hove Albion play football or rugby. Last night’s Panorama has therefore helped achieve a first in my life.
For those of you who missed it, the programme concentrated on certain organisations who ran a scam convincing schools to buy “free” computer equipment. After a few months the supply company subsequently walked away from the deal saddling the schools in question with vastly inflated leases for equipment that often indeed didn’t work. It is not this scam however that caused my rage, it is the fact that there are organisations, such as the schools highlighted, who do not realise that there is help available that would have prevented such issues occurring in the first place.
The change in the structure of the education system in the UK is indeed partly to blame. Historically such leases as these would have been checked by the Local Education Authority or Department of Education but that is no longer the case. With the advent of Academy and Free schools, these organisations are to the most part left to their own devices. However a recent study by a select group of MP’s showed that few schools have the financial skills to go it alone and are therefore susceptible to these type of scams.
So what can schools do, how can they avoid becoming the next Katesgrove, Gloucester Primary or St Joseph’s Catholic school to name but a few mentioned last night. The answer is simple, employ experts in the areas where you do not have the expertise. I am sure any law suit levied at a school would be handed straight over to a legal advisor and not be subject to the Heath Robinson approach that procurement often follows.
Auditel, the UK’s leading cost and purchase management company, has been helping businesses in the UK for over 18 years manage their essential overheads. Not only do we provide an assessment of current business costs, we assist in the implementation and hence realisation of any savings identified. We become a go to point for advice, meaning the sales people from the companies running the scam featured last night could have been referred to us in the first instance. We would review the deal being offered and provide independent advice as to its suitability to the client.
The pressure salesman would not have been confronted by a Headmaster under pressure to provide state of the art IT equipment, but by a seasoned independent procurement professional with access to a vast database of knowledge with which to help review the deal in question. The Headmaster would be left to do what they do best, providing first rate education to the children attending their school. A number of education establishments around the country already benefit from the Auditel service and have achieved substantial savings. Money that can be reinvested in the school itself.
As Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, was quoted as saying “The Committee get very upset when, with public expenditure being cut, the public sector is ripped off by private companies”. Well now you know how you can prevent that happening.