In response to an FoIA request, Highways England provided rates for AIW’s in Area’s 3 and 9 managed by Kier Highways. These can be reviewed by clicking here.
The response provided no rates for Areas 1 & 3 with Highways England stating:
‘For Area’s 1 and 13 the role of the Asset Incident Watchman (AIW) did not exist under these Operating Contracts with the role undertaken by a 1st responder. Consequently there are no defined AIW rates in Areas 1 and 13’
But this does not prevent Highways England charging for them. Clcik on the above image thumbnail (U10D200) of a Cost Breakdown Document which displays:
- AIW’s @ £70.32 / hour … an hourly rate of £58.32 + 20.58% uplift of £12
- AIW’s charged at double time … yet we understand they work shifts, a weekend rota and overtime, if they go over their shift, is at a flat rate.
The AIW’s in this 12/2015 incident are being charged at over £140 / hour yet to Highways England represent a cost of about £25 / hour.
The following should also be taken into consideration:
- ISU’s (pre-AIW’s) were little more than a man with a shovel*
- Area 9 is charged at a higher rate** than other areas because Kier took on a shambles from Amey
- If the base rate is truly £58.32 / hour, at under £25 / hour, Kier are running at a loss when billing Highways England.
Or possibly the base-rate of £58.32 is false and facts are being represented to us, Insurers and the courts by Kier and Highways England?
“So an ISU operative, what they used to be was ISUs; an ISU was effectively two, and I’m going to use the word ‘unskilled’, and when I say that I mean they’re effectively able to use a shovel and fill in potholes and stuff but they’re relatively unskilled in what they do. They were predominantly put in a van, driving round the network and pulling up in laybys, when an incident happened they were out there dealing with the incident, they didn’t really have any other duties. They might have done some basic maintenance like litter picking, for argument’s sake. When the contract changed they, obviously everything had to be provided more cost effectively, we had to be more efficient, etc. and what we ended up having before in the map model is we had separate very, very LANTRA skilled inspectors, so people who were qualified to turn around and say what was required, who were qualified to the LANTRA, the City & Guilds standard that they needed to be at. 103. In the new world the AIW encompasses the inspector and effectively the patrolling man, but it’s made that role a lot more skilled and they end up being a lot more specialist, so a lot of these people have to go through course, you know, a course a number of them have just recently done is the update barrier skills courses, which again are very specialist areas, to turn around and make a judgment on what’s required, what model’s required, etc. they have to be skilled to a certain level, but they’ve all had to go through an extensive training, and they also go through a three, a quarterly competency assessed kind of programme, so what we have to do as a company is we have to demonstrate that we are spot checking what they’re doing as well, which like Neil says, there’s, they do the general inspection side of it, but they also have moved into a world now where they do specialist inspections, which is something even the inspectors didn’t do. So when I say specialist inspections, I mean things like geotechnical inspections, you know, where you are supposed, you have to have a certain qualification to carry these things out, there’s like the fencing inspections, there’s all different types of it, but they have had to encompass that, but at the same time they also have to encompass a proactive maintenance approach.”
“Area 9’s is higher and none of us really understand why, to be honest with you, don’t really understand why, we have queried why it was higher. I have a sneaky suspicion that the reason it’s higher is because they knew what a shambles it was. And it is, you know, it was a shambles, it was an absolute sham, to be honest, and it’s cost us an absolute fortune to start rectifying it.”
Note: it appears Kier Highways were unconcerned with taking on a shambles; they intended for insurers to pay for it.