UK School National IT Scam
After hearing about the suspensions made at a Slough school as a result of an alleged National IT Scam, we decided to look into more detail on what has been going on.
Schools across the UK are being charged up to 10 times too much for laptops and other IT equipment through mis-sold lease agreements, a BBC Radio 5 live investigation has found (8th January).
It’s hard to believe as part of this investigation some Head teachers are being chased for equipment they had understood was free of charge!
Schools that are leasing IT equipment are effectively hiring equipment, by taking a loan from a bank that funds the supplier.
One school affected was Glemsford Primary in Suffolk, they had an IT company who came in to supply the schools photocopiers.
James Loker-Steele told 5 live Investigators: “They came to us and said we were going to be a flagship school so we’d get priority on various pieces of kit that came up or any promotions.
“Their sales person phoned us up and said: ‘We’ve managed to source about 1,000 laptops, would you like any?'”
When the school explained it could not afford the equipment, they were told it would not be a problem as the equipment would be free and part of a promotion, Mr Loker-Steele said.
Following the dialoge the school decided to agree on 100 computers on the basis they where free. However the school says they had been told to sign an agreement as part of EU regulations.
This was not the case. They had unfortunately signed long-term leases on the equipment against a finance company.
Furthermore, the supplier went into administration leaving the school liable for thousands of pounds of debt.
As it stands the school owes an estimated £500,000 to Clydesdale Bank after leasing equipment with a value of approximately £700,000.
An accountancy firm which is investigating the non-payment of leases by schools, said the company involved had marked up the cost of the equipment it supplied by up to 10 times what the assets are actually worth.
“For example, a laptop that has a price of between £350 and £400 is charged at £3,750,” one accountant said, adding: “Some schools were having 100-200 laptops delivered at this price.”
In a statement, Clydesdale Bank said: “We can confirm that we have financed the purchase of equipment for a small number of local authority schools through a third party.
“We are carrying out our own investigations and have provided information to the police.”