Collisions, Fires & Spills on England’s Motorways and Major Roads

exaggerated & unsupportable repair claims presented to drivers, fleets, hauliers and or their insurers by Highways England, TfL, Councils or their contractors following DCP – Damage to Crown Property


  Collisions, Fires & Spills

 

 

  Punctures & Bursts –

 

 

  Contacts –

 

 

You have been presented a bill by Highways England or their contractor following a collision, spill or fire that caused damage to Crown Property (DCP).  The demand you receive is likely exaggerated.  Firstly, it is import to be aware of the billing process as who receives a contractor’s invoice, in some Areas, is generally governed by the claim value:

  • above £10,000, the Public Authority such as Highways England, is billed by their contractor, pay the invoices then seeks recovery from you or your insurer.
  • below £10,000 the contractor is not paid by the Authority but pursues you themselves.

Highways England likely cannot help you with the bill as, in Area 9 (currently) and Area 10 (2012 to 04/2019) they claim to have no schedule of prices but have been paying 100’s contractor invoices (over £10,000) unable to reconcile them.  We have encountered misrepresentation by Highways England and their contractors – the latter prepared to make false statements to Courts when progressing claims in the name of their master, Public Authorities.


Highways England dig a large hole for themselves … ‘we do not have any rates agreed with our contractors for Damage to Crown Property repairs’! Really? Since 2012 Highways England claim they have been unable to determine whether contractors have paid them in accordance with the ‘defined cost’ process or whether Third Parties (driver, fleets, hauliers & insurers) have been invoiced correctly. But it also appears this could affect the monthly lump-sum payments contracts receive – hardly ‘protecting the public purse’.  But … there are rates, they have been audited; in Areas 6&8 these are referred to in the Amey / Kier transfer, in Area 9 these rates arecommercially sensitive and in Area 10 a Judge was told they exist and are subsidized (seemingly a false statement).

May 2019 … multiple updates following our activity:

Highways England (HE) now state we have no schedule of DCP Rates‘ – 6 years to discover this and overlooked when answering over 100 FoIA requests between 2013 & 07/2018.  No pricing schedule against which to check 1,000’s of contractor’s invoices – rubber-stamped for payment! Is it coincidence that this follows just weeks after a Tribunal was told DCP Rates are not commercially sensitive, by a HE employee who 6 months earlier had deemed them to be so and prevented release?
Are there really no ratesEvidence supporting the existence of DCP Rates! Highways England & the ICO ‘no rates’ stance is  presented to a Tribunal – as the ICO identified, there are rates, they were reviewed!

Areas and their associated concerns:

Area 9 Time-Line: Kier Highways concerns.  From 2013 emergency attendance charge of £125 becoming £1,500 then £2,700 plus £2,000 of admin’ … just before they (then ‘EM Highways Services’) were sold to Kier.  10/2015, forced to abandon their process that saw £millions inappropriately invoiced, the next process was exaggeration by another name. Highways England appeared unwilling or unable to address this and misrepresented facts assisting the abuse.Kier’s emergency incident attendance staff (AIW’s) are stated to work 8am to 5pm after which they cost Kier and are charged at 1.5X – but evidence indicates they work shifts and are NOT paid the uplift. Profiteering, fraud or both?

The ‘Investigation’ of Area 9 was concluded in 2018 according to HE’s CEO.  But 02/2019 HE staff contradict this when responding to an FoIA request initially advising that there was no information about the KPMG led inquiry, subsequently that in support of their being no data to provide, the investigation was … not concluded!

Area 10 Time-Line: Statements made to us and the Courts to obtain payment of high rates contradict information provided by Highway England. Profiteering, fraud or both?  Above threshold (£10,000) rates to Highways England are NOT subsidized by the lump-sum payment, contrary to what BBMM’s witness informed a court.
Areas 6&8 Time Line‘gifted’ to Kier 01/04/2017, an ASC permitted to continue charging Highways England and Third Parties by use of costs not agreed with Highways England as there is no schedule of ‘defined costs’.  Or is there?

Pre-04/2017, Amey’s rates were significantly lower

 

Fires & Fluid Spills – on the increase but does anyone care?  Are the incidents the result of contractors failing to maintain our roads and providing them the opportunity to profit due to their cost-cutting; leave litter and debris in place and if it causes a collision, having undertaken the repair (and cleaned the road) a driver, fleet, haulier or their insurer can be billed for the works!


04/2019 – We have received an unprecedented number of approaches this month, likely following Highways England’s U-Turn over ‘defined costs’ or ‘DCP Rates, having realised after 5 years they (apparently) have no schedule of rates their contractors are to charge them for repairs – which must make reconciliation of invoices a nightmare for the Authority and their auditors.  The Authroity has acknowledged a lack of transparency.  The Public Authority plans to disclose a standard set of rates this month and have written:

08/04/2019: Following complaints from loss adjusters, Highways England commissioned an independent investigation into the pricing in Area 9 of below threshold (i.e. below £10,000) claims for damage to the strategic road network (sometimes referred to as DCP or Green Claims). The investigation revealed a lack of transparency in the pricing of Green Claims in Area 9, citing the lack in the Asset Support Contract (“ASC”) of any schedule of rates (labour or materials) for third party repairs (note our DCP rates link below has been reporting upon this).

More than 3 years ago, 10/2015, we raised issue with Highways England (registered users click here for a copy).  In 01/2016 their General Counsel instigated an audit which reported:

The processes used by Kier have evolved over the life of the ASC Contract (since November 2013). The processes meet the requirements within the ASC Contract. There was no evidence that Kier recovered over their entitlement though the early claims did contain a small number of minor errors. The errors, it is considered, were by flaws in the process rather than by design.

Just how did the auditors fail to note the absence of a schedule of rates and without these, how were they able to determine whether recoveries were below or above their entitlement?  The General Counsel ignored our concerns about the audit.

The latest complaint, referred to above, was presented 21/06/2017 and evidenced far more than just issues about the ‘schedule of rates’.  KPMG were involved in the audit  ‘Project Verde’ 15/11/2017 (meeting notes here for registered users). It has taken almost 18 months for Highways England to realise ‘there is no schedule’.  Or has it?  According to Highways England’s CEO, the investigation concluded 09/2018, so 6 months to note the missing schedule or act upon it?  Possibly ‘putting your hands up’ to not having a schedule has less serious consequences than the alternative – releasing the schedule of rates?

  • We will present the facts asap.  Should you wish to be kept appraised of developments, you take a couple of minutes to complete our sign-up for emails and newsletters click here.  The form is brief.  We will continue to update this web site.  Full details of the complaint (our meeting with Highways England, conversation with KPMG, subsequent exchanges, the intimidation we were subjected to and the extent of the profiteering will be posted in due course).
  • For CCTV requests – click here

 

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