19/01/2021

England Highways

Damage to Crown Property [DCP] Claim Costs

The NsoRC and Highways England’s Failure to Explain

What was the National Schedule of Repairs Costs (NSoRC) really about and why did it fail.  Thus far, an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request has failed to uncover the truth.

The request relates to Highways England’s 21/06/2019 implementation of the NSoRC (National Schedule of Repair Costs). I believe the Authority has, once again, misrepresented facts about the process, its demise. I believe the cessation of the process (31/10/2019) was brought about by contractors. In turn that the Authority wishes to keep all related information secret as it will demonstrate they have lost control; are so compromised as to be ineffective.

The process (NSoRC) was not required. There was a perfectly good procedure to apply when billing Highways England and Third-Parties; Appendix A to Annex 23. However, a contractor never complied with the process, the Authority failed to enforce it and likely unable to have their contractor comply, the Authority changed the contract to assist the contractor, not the public they serve.
The NSoRC occurred because the Authority dug itself a hole. When ‘discovering’ (late 2018) there was no schedule of rates in any contract (ASC’s) since 2012, to avoid having to produce the price lists and disclose the ‘state enabled exaggeration and fraud on an industrial scale’, they had to be seen to be doing something. The NSoRC was intend to create a price list and did so. It appears the project was well resourced. The Authority was satisfied they had produced REASONABLE rates.

And that should have been that – a reference document contractors, the Authority and Third-Parties could utilise to bill and receive prompt, frictionless, reimbursement.
But the Authority lacks control, is beholden to its contractors whose bottom line, profiting (profiteering) and … well, greed required fuelling. The NSoRC removed many areas in which a contractor could manipulate, dual claim, overcharge and apply fraudulent uplifts. And so, in late 2019 the process was terminated abruptly …

It came as no surprise that, in mid-2020, the Authority’s own witness, a Kier highways employee caused a judge to write:

‘Furthermore, for the purposes of assessing the extent of Kier’s authority within Area 9 (Area 6/8) the court cannot ignore the evidence given on behalf of the claimant by Mr Cairns. In summary, on this issue his evidence was to the effect that the costs calculated for the purposes of the claim did include uplifts for which he was unable to find authority within the contract’.

It is unsurprising the Authority and Kier had acted, entered into a deed of variation that enabled the contractor to charge Third-Parties more. What about Highways England’s ‘serving the public’?
A FoIA request to acquire detail about the instigation, development and demise of the NSoRC has thus far been blocked by the Authority. To read more about the current attempts to obtain formation, click here.