Education changes are racking up call charges

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WIGAN’S schools could save £300,000 each year by choosing more competitive telephone packages, a communications firm claims.

Research carried out by telecoms brokerage Equinox suggests more than a quarter of a million pounds is wasted each year by the borough’s schools by finding better packages and analysing deals more closely.

The company believes around £7.1m is spent unnecessarily by schools on phone bills in the North West each year, with Wigan facing the joint second-highest bill in Greater Manchester along with Bolton and Stockport.

Equinox suggests the borough’s 134 schools now need expert help to negotiate the minefield of telephone contracts, with varying rates, hidden charges and unhelpful special packages all adding to their excessive final bills.

Telecoms adviser Dave Millett said: “Few schools have professional procurement experience within their administrative teams and let’s face it the telephone companies aren’t in the business of informing people when they could get cheaper rates.

“Schools need someone to analyse their calls patterns and identify from the whole market who provides the most appropriate rates.

“Many providers market what appear to be attractive schemes such as capped calls and bundles of minutes but these seldom work in favour of the school.

“Even if the saving is only smaller it is money schools didn’t previously have which can be used to help to educate our next generation.”

The researchers claim the wasted cash spent on phone bills in the North West could pay for more than 200 primary school teachers, almost 1,900 crossing attendants, provide thousands of whiteboards or give more than 16,000 primary school pupils a free meal.