29/09/2019, a collision occurred and the contractor tasked their staff to attend, assess, estimate, plan and undertake the repair. The bill, being in excess of £10,000, under the old or new contract, it was destined for the Authority, Highways England.
Seemingly rubber-stamped for payment along with 1,000’s of others, it being too expensive to check contractor invoices, the process of clawing back the monies began. The claim passed to the Authorities ‘Green Claims’ team. A standard demand letter was sent to the insurer explaining ‘Highways England seeks to recover the costs incurred’ … this one from the relatively new head of the claims department. The 25/10/2019 letter can be read in full here.
25/03/2020, the costs were presented and another set of Authority ‘blinkered’ (?) eyes, another case of same-old, same-old … the costs amounting to over £13,700 were presented for payment by the insurer:
The office ‘staff’ costs appear excessive but MATERIALS and SUBCONTRACT costs identical? That is a substantial coincidence or …
An examination of the paltry 14 pages of claim documentation provided revealed the truth … there had been a duplication of costs, one not identified by the contractor; just what does the £2240.74 admin’ fee (above) obtain? Clearly not a reconciliation of the charges! Then there were other anomalies such as a higher than expected uplift.
Plundering the public purse is rampant, disregard for its safekeeping common. The information emanating from Highways England is unchecked, cannot be accepted at face value. Authority assurances are worthless (a catalogue of U-Turns can be read here) and insurers are more than just ensuring they pay the appropriate, correct sum, they provide the only effective auditing mechanism for Highways England!
On the plus side, it is encouraging to see our stance with regard to labour rates is vindicated, that a ‘reasonable’ charge for an operative is in the region of £25/hour. The contractor in this matter applied the following rates when billing Highways England:
- Area Maintenance Lead Operative £25.18
- Area Maintenance Operative £21.11
- Area Maintenance Operative £25.54
- Area Maintenance Lead Operative £26.63
- Area Maintenance Lead Operative £25.80
- Area Maintenance Supervisor £27.79
Somewhat different to the £70+ to £140+ / hour we have seen charged to Third Parties (drivers, fleets, hauliers or their insurers) by contractors whilst charging the Authority rates akin to those above.