19. James Robson, Chairman of Powerful Allies

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For this episode Tim Warneford travels to Wiltshire to speak to Powerful Allies Chairman, James Robson, about the risks posed to academy schools for energy procurement in an un-regulated market place.    On this episode we discuss:   The raw deals schools are getting with energy contracts  Opaque culture of energy procurement system Seems against schools interests Risks facing schools in unregulated market James Robson’s path to the academy sector His background in aviation, airports then electricity and gas The industry being, surprisingly, unregulated  The shock that academies have no recourse if things go wrong Going into the market with a transparent tender Working on better contracts than the local authority Local authorities no longer happy with procurement methodology  But are reluctant to change supplier Introducing competitive tender means best value  ESFA being strong about cost certainty  Local authorities having no competitive tender or certainty of future price  Volume purchases being attractive but not bespoke  Academies cannot deal directly with supplier  Energy is the second largest cost to school (after staffing) How schools/academies should challenge brokers who contact them  Schools need to be more sceptical about brokers’ offerings  An apparent disconnect between the contract and the school  How securing a fixed price energy contract for the duration IS possible  How they are fixing rates for clients for several years  Some schools getting a nasty shock with energy cost rises  There are recourses for schools that have been overcharged schools will need help with this  Schools likely to face more costs – cost certainty being essential  School staff having been wrongly trusted or been misold by brokers