Another abandonment of a fire claim, a £25,000+ saving for a client using a well-honed process, would be perceived by many as an opportunity … but … a potentially far more concerning issue takes priority:
- Highways England’s latest cost-chasing procedure sees the withholding of information. Drivers, fleets, hauliers or their insurers are being kept from pertinent data.
Case study: Almost 2 years ago we pressed the Authority for information about a claim. We suspect they did little knowing their contractor would ignore requests. The Green Claims department at Highways England wanted to settle, we were enticed, but the facts did not stack up.
The Authority, recovering £1 in every £5, appointed lawyers who eventually obtained and presented the information. The questions are now; was the withholding intentional, if so, by whom and who authorised the thoughtless payment of sub-£25,000 invoices?
The records display 3 Traffic Management references; that is to say, the TM charged in full to our client was utilised on two other incidents. One way or another, the additional works were also paid for by others.
Possibly two other Third Parties were billed (in full too?) or did the monies come from the public purse – scheduled or pre-planned works paid for by the contractor’s monthly lumpsum award i.e. the public-purse had already met the costs … and then the contractor was paid again?
Who would know or care, if the Authority recovered the entire bill? But in this instance, the Authority received less than half the monies demanded. Time to return to their contractor for the £1,000’s in over-payment of public funds in this one claim… ???
How can this happen (so often)? One answer is that pre-payment Highways England undertakes no enquiry of the invoice. Sub-£25,000, invoices are rubber-stamped for payment; it is ‘too expensive’ to reconcile them. We would suggest it is too expensive not to do so! If we know of the £25k-rule, you can bet contractors do.
Who will investigate, who cares? We are still pressing for information as we very much doubt this is a one-off. Indeed, we have yet to encounter a correctly priced invoice from a Highways Contractor.