24/06/2019: Highways England introduced a National Schedule Of Repair Costs For Network Damage (Green Claims).
We have spoken with a number of those involved, to include the author of the schedule and HE’s General Counsel. We were asked ‘what do you think of the new rates?’ Whilst informed comment could not be made in the absence of further information we replied:
Why bother? There exists a perfectly good system under the ASC’s:
Base Rate (£) + Uplift (%) = maximum charge to a TP
Why did the Authority not instruct contractors to abide by the above, contractually agreed process, which HE’s CEO, Jim O’Sullivan confirmed is relevant? We left the Authority to ponder this.
Currently, the ‘transparency’ assured is lacking. We have requested more data and understand this will be forthcoming. The process sees charging move away from incident-specific calculations to ‘composite’ rates. However, in the absence of the rate make-up, analysis cannot occur and further comment would be unhelpful. Comparing the rates with historical charges will be undertaken when source info’ is provided, ideally this week and consideration given to the higher thresholds cited, replacing the £10,000 ASC limit.
Whatever comes of this process, at present we are, as ever, glass half-full and providing substantial insight to those behind the process. Change is needed. Whilst HE convey an insurer-benefit spin, the new AD contracts see the Public Authority at the forefront, about to handle 1,000’s more claims. That the process is presented as needing to address insurer concerns about rates, requires reconsideration. Operatives, plant and materials rates are not in themselves the issue. The problem has been twofold:
Under £10k, Contractors fail to use the agreed rates, overstated claims and misrepresent.
Over £10k, Highway England rubber-stamp invoices for payment and seek reimbursement without reconciliation. Unsurprisingly, we have never seen a correctly priced claim from the Authority
Our initial submission has set out a number of aspects which we believe need to be considered but seeks greater detail. We have also put forward suggestions for improving the process from HE’s perspective, several ideas which appear to have been well received. The new process presents an opportunity, one we are keen to embrace and build upon. We were asked not to make further reference to the 06/2019 procedure on www.englandhighways.co.uk until discussion progresses. We have agreed to this, voluntarily revamped the home page and the links now include contact & abbreviation pages to assist those involved in this specialist area.
We wish to ensure Highways England do indeed give the insurance industry the benefit of the rates they have been able to secure in a competitive market. We know these rates.