Boleyn Recovery

A government review is to investigate claims by recovery operators and hauliers that soaring vehicle roadside recovery costs are being driven by the high level of fees taken by the managing agencies running the schemes for Highways England and the police.

The review, led by the Home Office, is set to begin in November. It will investigate the rise in vehicle recovery costs, above the fixed charges set out by the government in 2008. It will also investigate the lack of  transparency around the level of management fees taken by management agencies from the charges paid by hauliers and other road users to have their vehicles recovered.

As part of the review the Home Office will launch a selective consultation next month which will gather evidence from all stake holders including the RHA, the Association of Vehicle Recovery Operators (AVRO) Highways England, the police and the management agencies.

AVRO president Stephen Smith told "The statutory fees from vehicle recovery have not been reviewed since 2008 and so the rates have not kept up with inflation and are not enough for recovery operators to pay their costs let alone make a profit, particularly when in some instances 40% of the fee is taken by the management agencies."

"This has resulted in some recovery operators levying additional charges, such as gate fees and winching fees. Whilst AVRO does not condone this, we can see why this is happening when the current system has become so unsustainable for recovery operators."

Tom Cotton, RHA head of infrastructure policy and licensing, echoed Smith's concerns. "Some of our members have been landed with astronomical bills. We are concerned about the additional charges beyond the set statutory fees and we are also concerned at the very high management fees being charged."

He voiced particular concern at the costs some hauliers had incurred via the Highways England scheme, managed by FMG.

"RHA would like greater transparency on how fees are apportioned between the recovery operators, the management agency and Highways England. We would also much rather the scheme be run by Highways England as it is would be more accountable."

Both the RHA and AVRO are calling for changes to the statutory fee matrix for vehicle recovery for England and Wales which would bring it in line with that recently adopted by Scotland. This would see the recovery fee for an 18-tonner that was on the roadside, upright and only slightly damaged, rise from the current rate of £350 to £480 .

At the other end of the scale of damage, fees for the recovery of a fully laden 18-tonner that was off road and substantially damaged or upturned would rise from the current rate of £6,000 to £8,000.

AVRO is also calling for rules on the transparent reporting of the statutory vehicle recovery fees and how they are collected and dispersed to be included in the revised legislation to ensure recovery operators are paid a fair and consistent rate across schemes.

Smith said: "This could actually see hauliers charged less because there would be more transparency about where those fees go, ensuring recovery operators are paid a fair rate."

The review is expected to conclude in April next year.