Seemingly unable to find a single schedule of Damage to Crown Property (DCP) rates in 2018 for any of their Asset Support Contracts (since 2012), in 2019, Highways England compiled the NSoRC – National Schedule of Repair Costs. Not just any schedule, but a ‘reasonable‘ set of rates to be applied across all Areas.
How reasonable? Apparently ‘Mr O’Sullivan makes exceedingly good rates‘
The NSoRC took months to compile. Various cost schedules were reviewed, about 100 claims, some above, some under the £10,000 threshold. 24/06/2019, the schedule was rolled out and applied. A number of individuals appeared very pleased with the results commenting upon their reasonableness. 19/09/2019, the Authority’s CEO Jim O’Sullivan, wrote:
‘I am not going to respond on the detail of your email, but on your central point I have always been very clear with you that I share some of your concerns about the transparency of repair costs for damage to the network. By and large, the Asset Support Contracts don’t assist precisely because they do not specify the labour and equipment rates to be used for emergency/unplanned repairs. In those circumstances the legal constraint is that the costs have to be reasonable.
While the situation is improved by the adoption of Asset Delivery, the difficulties of reconciling the different perceptions of what is reasonable for particular repairs in what is in practice a very complex area has led us to publishing a National Schedule of Repair Costs for typical repairs.
We firmly believe the costs set out in that schedule* are eminently reasonable. And while the level of granularity in the schedule is something we continue to look at, we do think it provides a level of transparency and consistency which has hitherto been absent.’
So there you have it … costs have to be reasonable and NSoRC is not just reasonable but ’eminently’ so.
And this was no ‘pilot’. Highways England now refer to it as such, but ‘this was it’; to be rolled out and applied nationally. The Authority’s General counsel, Tim Reardon was blunt …
- “you know, these rates are being applied across the board.”
- “this will be the position and it’s… in a sense it’s not a trial, it’s just phase 1 of the roll-out”
- “but basically this is it.”
31/10/2019, Highways England suspended NSoRC. Why? A possible reason is that it put an end to contractors exaggeration and profiteering … further evidence Highways England is not in control?