The Highways Agency has announced that it plans to make 20% efficiency savings on the 14 major projects that it will deliver through to 2014-15 following the Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Agency’s Business Plan for 2011-12 states that savings will be needed due to “financial constraint” placed on the Agency following a reduced budget in the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, and also reveals that negotiations are taking place with managing agent contractors (MACs) maintenance contracts which it says will deliver significant savings over the current arrangements.
The business plan states that “these are all examples of us working more efficiently whilst getting the most for taxpayers money and reducing costs in a time of limited spending”.
The report also states that an independent review of the Highways Agency to determine whether it remains “the most appropriate approach to the operation, maintenance and enhancement of the strategic road network”.
This is due for publication in October 2011 and will make recommendations based on its findings.
The report states: “This is a good opportunity to set out with absolute clarity just what the Government expects of us, and just how that fits with our funding and the wider resources available.”
The report also outlines that the Highways Agency plans to assess how it can compare itself against European infrastructure operations on the cost of the delivery of projects, renewals and routine maintenance. This data will be used to benchmark performance across suppliers.
In his foreword to the plan, chief executive Graham Dalton said: “Despite the financial constraint, we do have certainty of funding over the four years.
“Knowing what money we have in the future has presented us with the confidence we need to clearly plan ahead and prioritise delivery to support our objectives and to meet road users’ expectations.
“This business plan outlines the actions we are taking in 2011-12.
“These include improved commercial and asset management, the introduction of new maintenance contracts, a review of technical standards and looking at where and when we do work, balancing the impact of road works with the higher cost of night and weekend working.
“In improving the network we will manage an affordable programme of road schemes, driving down our costs and the costs from our supply chain by looking to the construction industry to work with us through a range of measures including challenging scope and unit cost.
“The Highways Agency needs to take a firmer grip as client and infrastructure owner. I have no doubt that we have the skills and capability in the Highways Agency to do this, to reduce our reliance on consultants and advisors, and to bring a stronger commercial edge to what we do.
“It will mean changes for every one of us in how we manage, plan and deliver our work – a change I am confident we are ready to tackle.”