Kier – Business as Usual in Area 9? We hope not!
A Highways England press release (Smoother journey through Highways England contract changes) explains:
Progressive Asset Delivery (PAD) was rolled out in the Midlands and the South East on Monday (1 July). PAD will provide a link between the traditional Asset Support Contracts and the Asset Delivery model that puts Highways England in direct control of asset management, maintenance and other services.
This safety net offered by Kier will ensure it is ‘business as usual’ while allowing the business to explore new and more efficient ways of working as it moves towards Asset Delivery.
It will also ensure Highways England can maintain excellent levels of customer service, delivery and safety as it makes the transition.
We hope it is NOT business as usual and that the current levels of service do NOT continue.
Until 24/06/2019, Highway England state that Kier has not issued an invoice in Area 9 during 2019 for a TP claim. The reason – linked to complaints about exaggeration and fraud and the revelation the Authority claim they have no agreed rates with Kier … or in any ASC! Highways England have recently written:
You are correct, there are no schedule of rates within our Contracts for the calculation of the repair costs for claims against negligent Third Parties (TP) who have caused damage to the Strategic Road Network.
For the avoidance of doubt, we do not have any contracts with Kier that contain a schedule of rates for the calculation of the repair costs for claims against negligent TP’s who have caused damage on our Strategic Road Network
The above is Highways England response to Third Parties. However, the Authority has recently told the National Audit Office there are schedules of rates!
Another Highways England response contains the statements:
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 (historically referred to as Damage to Crown Property (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.
Kier have initially agreed to temporarily hold all new claims since January 2019 and to apply the National Schedule of Repair Costs to those claims.
For years, Kier and Highways England sought to keep processes and rates secret thereby enabling profiteering, this is the ‘lack of transparency’. As for ‘pricing’, Kier Highways has not complied with the contract, instead exaggerating claims and Highways England have failed to act upon this. More about the new process can be found here.
There is a perfectly good system for charging Third Prices, it was agreed by Kier Highways and Highways England in 2014 but has not been adhered to.
As for Kier’s agreement to temporarily hold all new claims … this appears to be another example where Highways England say one thing but their contractor / lawyers do another.
More about the above can be found here.
For the Area 9 time-line, click here.