Fat-cat bosses at HS2 were slammed today for sanctioning nearly £2 million in “unauthorised” gold-plated redundancy deals for staff.
A withering report by a cross-party Commons Committee said the terms were “well in excess” of those authorised by the Department for Transport and there was no means for these sums to be recovered.
And the report by the National Audit Office says the incredible turnover of staff was putting the very delivery of HS2 at risk. The Public Accounts Committee said 18 per cent of employees had left in a 12 month period.
Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald accused Transport Secretary Chris Grayling of having a “cavalier attitude towards the nation’s finances” and called on him to “take responsibility and spell out what he will do to prevent any more public money being squandered”.
Transport and Salaried Staffs Association leader Manuel Cortes described the PAC report as “damning beyond belief” and claimed “heads really must roll at the Department for Transport”.
A National Audit Office report into HS2 Ltd’s 2016/17 accounts found it made payments totalling £1.76 million which were not appropriately authorised.
The company agreed compensation worth one month’s salary per year of service with outgoing staff to coincide with its headquarters moving from London to Birmingham.
The statutory standard is roughly one week’s pay per year depending on age and length of employment.
Some staff were even offered paid leave to top up their exit packages above the £95,000 civil service compensation scheme limit.
There is no means for these sums to be recovered, the PAC concluded.
Phase 1 of the £55.7 billion high-speed railway will open between London and Birmingham in December 2026, with a second Y-shaped phase launching in two stages.
Phase 2a from the West Midlands to Crewe will begin in 2027, followed by Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester, and Birmingham to Leeds, in 2033.
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