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DfE creates energy price comparison website for schools

31/01/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Department for Education (DfE) has set up a web based energy price comparison service for schools in an effort to reduce their bills.

Teacher with child in classroom

It enables them to bypass brokers, who often charge heavy fees, and obtain instant quotes from a range of gas and electricity firms, similar to price comparison websites available for household energy.

The DfE said the new service, on which it has worked with the Crown Commercial Service, will help schools avoid fees charged by energy brokers and reduce the more than £10 billion a year that goes on non-staffing costs.

It has been launched with a limited number of energy suppliers but more will be added over time.

The latest figures from 2016-17 show state funded schools in England spent more than £584 million on gas and electricity, with the average secondary school spending around £90,000 a year. Due to the complexity of schools’ energy needs, many currently have to go through brokers who charge fees as high as 5p per kilowatt hour – which can add up to thousands of pounds per year.

Dealing direct

The new website will allow schools to deal directly with suppliers, inputting information about their energy use to generate tailored, transparent quotes, which they can then compare. It will also list providers offering renewable energy.

Using the Department for Education’s existing energy deals, schools have already reported savings of up to 14%, and the DfE said the price comparison website will help build on this.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “Many households shop around for the best deal on their gas and electricity – and I want to help schools do the same.”

He added: “This website is the latest step in our efforts to help schools reduce unnecessary costs, building on the School Resource Management Strategy I launched last year to provide practical advice and support.”

The move follows the DfE’s recent launch of an online tool to help schools find temporary staff and a free-to-use vacancy service, and news of its plan to build an online procurement platform for goods and services.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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