COVID-19: recovering lost revenue with a utility health check

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has provoked a big change in the way we work, and one of the most profound impacts has been the immediate and unprecedented shift to home working. At the height of the lockdown, 38% of the UK workforce were working from home, according to a YouGov poll. Prior to the crisis, only 7% of workers say they worked from home the whole time, with an additional 20% saying they did so on occasion.

It’s likely to lead to a long term shift in working habits, too. According to a survey of senior business leaders conducted by Cielo, 83% of those surveyed said their organisations will reduce or are considering a reduction in the amount of office space required for their operations.

Closing office space presents a prime opportunity for businesses to recoup some of the financial damage caused by the virus. From monthly rent through to cleaning costs, catering, equipment, and utilities, many of an organisation’s overhead costs are likely to be linked to the physical office.

Even organisations that plan to retain physical space will be doing a ‘health check’ of their office-related overheads, to see where savings can be made.

In our experience, there are usually immediate opportunities for savings even before you cancel contracts, by looking back in time to see what can be recouped from utility billing errors.   

Because of the complexity of electricity, gas and water bills, it is likely that you will have been affected by inaccurate billing at some point. There are currently over 1,000 combinations of data that can make up a final invoice, many of which are not visible on the bill. Telecoms charges can be complex too, leading to unintentional billing errors and supplier tariff discrepancies. And where technology has changed or been upgraded, equipment may have been switched off or disposed of, but you may still be getting charged for the legacy service.

The good news is that it’s possible to recover revenue from six years’ worth of billing history. The statute of limitations allows the historical recovery of errors for the last six years (or five years in Scotland). 

Our energy revenue recovery team carry out audits to recover monies lost due to incorrect billing on utilities, including telecoms – and the returns can be significant. We’ve recovered over £45,000,000 in lost revenue in just 10 years. One customer received a refund of over £434,000 in gas costs, just from one audit.

It’s difficult to accurately predict how the virus will eventually shape our workplaces for good, but organisations all over the UK are using it as an opportunity to take stock. Looking backwards as part of this process could be fruitful: recovering costs from historical charges is one way of softening the financial impact of a difficult year.