NHS Trusts ‘owed thousands’ in energy bill refunds

Inenco is urging organisations across the NHS to check whether they are being overcharged or paying ‘erroneous charges’ on their utility bills.

The energy consultancy claims one in five utility-related invoices contain errors, and that many Trusts could be due refunds from across the energy supply chain. Recent Inenco analysis estimates that inaccurate billing means that up to £0.5 bn could be owed to non-domestic energy users, with over £100 million attributed to the public sector, equivalent to one third of the NHS’s annual electricity bill.

The company says NHS organisations are ‘highly likely’ to be affected by billing errors ‘because of the complex nature of estates’. It said: “With large numbers of sites, and hundreds of gas and electricity meters, each Trust generates masses of billing and consumption data, creating large margins for error across the energy supply chain, for entities ranging from energy suppliers to meter operators and data collectors”.  

Public sector energy invoices are, Inenco maintains, becoming increasingly complex, as taxes, levies, and non-commodity elements are applied, and organisations pay different charges depending on the time of day energy is consumed. The consultancy says ‘the wrong application’ of these ‘non-commodity’ charges accounted for 42% of errors uncovered in its analysis, while over a third were caused by simple billing mistakes.

Two keyways to identify and recover charges, it explains, are historical audits to uncover errors over the last six years, and a continuous invoice validation process to capture and correct anomalies immediately. Mark Winn, lead consultant, Public Sector, said: “The size and scale of this issue means it’s not just small change on offer; with the public sector’s purse strings being stretched to breaking point, recovering these refunds and preventing future errors could make a big impact.”

A ‘special report on reducing cost in the NHS’ is now available at www.inenco.com/nhs-trusts/ with advice and case studies on procurement, energy reduction, and a spotlight on invoice validation, or email [email protected] ‘to discover how your organisation could stem increasing energy costs and benefit from better prices’.

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