SAVINGS of more than £32 million have been found in the Highways PFI contract — by the people who helped design it.

Providing their advice to the Isle of Wight Council, Jasmine Consulting has found what the council estimate to be upwards of £32 million through contract changes with Island Roads.

To date, only £3.6m has been found through negotiations led by Jasmine Consulting, but over the remaining 18 years of the PFI the council are expecting to find the rest.

A Cabinet report in July 2018, however, set out the council's wish to find £50m of savings from the contract, said to be worth £726m.

To find the savings, in a contract they helped draw up, figures revealed in a Freedom of Information request to the Isle of Wight Council show, over the 39 months Jasmine Consulting was paid £732,859.99 — £7,699.99 of that on expenses, £521,196 was for consultancy services and a further £203,964 to provide legal, technical and financial expertise specifically earmarked for the Milestone 14 end to the Core Investment Period.

Jasmine director Jay Jayasundara was hired by the Isle of Wight Council to help design, procure and negotiate the Highways PFI Contract, as programme director, over 11 years ago but left the council position before the contract started in April 2013.

When savings were needed to be found, Jasmine was brought back five years later to find areas funding could be cut from.

Council officers from the PFI contract management team said in the FOI response the council was confident the services offered by Jasmine Consulting had proved to be ‘extremely valuable’ in the ongoing work in managing the Island Roads contract arrangements and ensuring value for money for the Island.

Historic savings of £2 million had been agreed between the Isle of Wight Council and Island Roads, to be received by the end of September, and subject to contract changes being signed between parties.

Overall, the council say savings have been achieved by reducing operational service standards provided as part of the contract, including the frequency and response times of horticultural services, street cleaning and removing obsolete highway assets no longer required.

The ‘most significant saving’ the council had achieved was £7.4m for reducing the hand-back condition of the highways network at the end of the contract.