19. James Robson, Chairman of Powerful Allies

In 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

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