Highways England Disregard for the Public Purse

You want £66,000 …

‘Hey, that will be absolutely fine.
I think we can let off one problematic claim given all the hard work you’ve done through the years.’
Source: Highways England’s Green Claims Dept. email disclosed in response to a FoIA request.

The 2014 incident should have seen Kier present their costs to Highway England within a few months; failure to do so should mean the contractor must retain the claim and pursue it themselves.  Two years later the Authority was still attempting to prise figures out of the contractor who was struggling to reconcile the bill.

  • This in itself is odd; when did the Authority pay Kier Highways, how much and what documentation supported the bill?

We pressed for information, it was not forthcoming.  We were assured it would be provided, but no.  Information should have been provided in the usual course of business i..e supplied within 15 working days.   Still nothing.  Indeed, we now began to question whether the Authority’s approaches to Kier for data had been made as they claimed – unable to elicit information we were forced to the Freedom of Information Act – ‘Highways England & Kier Highways Exchanges‘. 

09/04/2019, Highways England were still struggling and wrote to Kier:

We continued to seek information in the usual course of business but it appeared the Authority was unable to obtain this, or unwilling to share it.  

Unsurprising the Authority have written (06/2019) of there having been a ‘slowing of settled claims creating a sizeable a backlog of outstanding claims and monies owed to Highways England’.  The authority only recovering £1 in every £5, it was all the more evident their processes were lacking.  Highways England, therefore, sought professional help.  The claim was re-presented to insurers at £66,000 plus …. almost £30,000 of interest!  Insurers were expected to pay for the Authorities generosity and failings.

The lack of claim-related information has seen us return to the Authority, forced to engage the FoIA.  Highways England’s Jonathan Drysdale promptly returned explaining the request was unclear and we re-submitted.  It took the Authority a further 4 weeks, to the limit of the period in which to respond, to refuse the request bizarrely citing vexatious and oppressive.  We await the outcome of an Internal Review to FOI 101035  – Unnecessary Payment from the Public Purse. 

HE112/003/SG148  Our ref:  X07B860

But Kier has long been treated favourably by the Authority, in particular, in Area 9 which the contractor referred to as a shambles following Amey’s involvement.  Read more here.

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