State Sponsored Exaggeration?
It helps, in the first instance, to understand invoices (requests for payment) for repairs to our roads following damage caused by an at-fault driver, follow one of two routes:
- If the damage costs more than £10,000, the contractor’s bill is paid by Highways England who must then try and get the money back from the at-fault driver, fleet operator or insurer.
- If the damage costs less than £10,000, the contractor bears the cost (cannot seek reimbursement from Highways England) and must try and get the money back from the at-fault driver, fleet operator or insurer.
The charges for the same staff, plant (vehicles) and materials following an incident are lower to Highways England. There is one rate and process for Highways England, there is another for drivers, fleets and insurers. Highways England deny this, the contractor had denied this but the fact is the same staff, plant and materials are priced difefrent subject to who will get the bill.
To date, no one has come to us with open hands to acknowledge this situation, explain the differences or justify theconduct. Despite a party being a Public Authority, the behaviour is shrouded in secrecy and we are subject to flawed replies or ignored.
Having highlighted our concerns about a contractor’s overcharging, in early 2016, Highways England undertook an audit and found ‘no evidence’ of such conduct. Odd! … in late 2015 the contractor abandoned their pricing process which saw an initial incident attendance plummet from £4,700 to about £1,000. This came as no surprise to us; the contractor had been charging per incident by dividing annual costs by 1,153 (incidents) as opposed to 5,400 so it is hardly surprising the fee was about 5x what it should have been! If you are presented 3,300 claims per annum and are overharging by £3,700 per claim that’s about £12 million … profit.
But not only were Highways England unable to identify this conduct, they wrote assuring us that they (Highways England) were charged the same as drivers, fleets and insurers for contractor’s tasks, specifically:
- Emergency attendance staff (AIW’s)
- Emergency attendance vehicle (AIW plant)
But the fact is, they are not.
Why do Highways England believe to the contrary, seek to convince us that the rates do not differ and ignore our concerns? To learn more about the concerns and to view the evidence, click here.