Taxpayer overcharged millions for school IT

Updated: 
Picture of school computersSchool technology is costing the tax payer many times more than it should because of dodgy leases, says a new report by BBC 5 Live.

Some schools have even ended up paying for technology they understood to be free as part of a promotion, as the ailing economy has sent the original donor companies into liquidation before they had finished paying for it.

To be fair, buying by lease when you can't afford the money up front is always going to be a costly business and everyone understands that - it makes items available which otherwise wouldn't be. But the amounts being discussed are considerable.

Millions


There appears to have been considerable overcharging, though. The Leasing Advisory Service is an independent body advising public sector groups on taking out leases and it confirmed to the BBC that it was involved in extricating one school from paying half a million for £45,000 worth of photocopiers.

That's clearly a lot of photocopiers but a tenfold mark-up is clearly extortionate. Elsewhere schools appear to have paid £3000+ for laptops which ought to cost a tenth of that.

The Finance and Leasing Association - a separate association - is understood to be sending out warnings to schools. Financing companies including banks are saying the goods and their value have nothing to do with them - but schools are having to pick up the expensive tabs once the deal has been struck.

In particular schools need to look at who owns promotional items and who is responsible for repayments if the company making the deal goes bust. Essentially the old, old rule applies - if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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