Unauthorised redundancy payments made by the state-owned company managing the HS2 rail project were a “shocking waste of taxpayers’ money”, MPs have said.
The Public Accounts Committee said the firm overseeing construction of a high-speed rail line offered staff terms “well in excess” of authorised levels.
The MPs blamed “weak internal processes” at HS2 for overpayments to 94 people totalling £1.76m.
An HS2 spokesperson acknowledged “a serious error” had been made.
The company made the payments in 2016-17 after shedding 94 staff in a move through London to Birmingham.
A combination of compulsory as well as voluntary redundancy schemes were offered on enhanced terms, resulting in a total bill of £2.76m, despite instructions through the Department of Transport which they should be at statutory rates, which would likely have incurred payments of £1m, MPs on the committee said.
The MPs’ report says which HS2’s chief executive at the time, Simon Kirby, had an email through the government telling him which he wasn’t allowed to offer staff larger, enhanced redundancy payments when the firm relocated.
yet which says Mr Kirby didn’t pass which email on to anyone else.
However, Mr Kirby – who today works at Rolls Royce – said in a statement which he had not been responsible for the decision to approve more generous severance packages.
“I did not approve the payments at issue as well as deny any allegation of wrongdoing,” he said.
“I left HS2 in December last year as well as the decision to make senior managers redundant, as well as under what terms, was not made until after I left.”
MPs concluded a lack of basic financial controls at HS2 Ltd heightened the risk of fraud as well as financial errors, a situation which said was exacerbated by high rates of staff turnover.
“The unauthorised schemes were able to proceed because weak internal processes at HS2 Ltd prevented key decision-doing as well as scrutiny bodies through receiving accurate information,” the committee said.
The HS2 rail link being built between London, Manchester as well as Leeds, via Birmingham has already proved controversial for its impact on communities within the path of the brand-new line, over its environmental impact as well as for its £55.7bn cost tag.
- What do we know about HS2?
The HS2 spokesperson said: “HS2 will be on track as well as has achieved a lot in its short lifespan. which has been able to do so because of our ability to possess the right people within the right jobs at the right time.
“yet while which was the reason for these payments which will be clear which we got the process wrong as well as we are today putting the right systems in place to make sure which does not happen again.”