HS2 fi­nance boss to leave fol­low­ing out­cry over re­dun­dancy over­pay­ments

Rail (UK) - - News -

High Speed 2’s (HS2) chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Steve Allen is set to leave the com­pany at the end of the fi­nan­cial year.

The an­nounce­ment of his de­par­ture fol­lows a crit­i­cal re­port from the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice (NAO) into HS2’s han­dling of re­dun­dancy pay­ments to staff. On Oc­to­ber 11, the Govern­ment In­ter­nal Au­dit Agency and De­part­ment for Trans­port (DfT) sent a man­age­ment let­ter com­mis­sioned by the DfT Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary fol­low­ing the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice’s Comp­trol­ler and Au­di­tor Gen­eral’s ver­dict that com­mit­ted ex­pen­di­ture on re­dun­dan­cies of £2.76m was £1.76m more than the statu­tory lev­els of re­dun­dancy HS2 was au­tho­rised to pay staff.

The pri­mary cause of this, ac­cord­ing to the man­age­ment let­ter, was an en­hanced re­dun­dancy pack­age which was pro­hib­ited by HS2’s Frame­work Doc­u­ment. The let­ter adds: “HS2 Ltd did this even af­ter the De­part­ment had in­structed it not to. A se­nior of­fi­cial at HS2 Ltd ac­knowl­edged this in­struc­tion, yet the en­hanced scheme pro­ceeded.”

Among the con­trib­u­tory causes iden­ti­fied were that gover­nance bod­ies at HS2 were “not suf­fi­ciently briefed, knowl­edge­able or ef­fec­tive enough to iden­tify that an ir­reg­u­lar scheme was be­ing in­tro­duced.” Fur­ther causes in­cluded the fact that the Frame­work Doc­u­ment be­tween HS2 and the DfT was “not well un­der­stood”, and that there were high lev­els of staff turnover and in­suf­fi­cient op­er­a­tional con­trols at HS2.

Com­ment­ing on his de­par­ture, Steve Allen said: “The weak­nesses high­lighted by the NAO re­port re­sulted in both the HS2 Ex­ec­u­tive and Board be­ing mis­in­formed about the sta­tus of crit­i­cal ap­provals for re­dun­dan­cies. Those as­sur­ances were given by teams for which I was re­spon­si­ble and, ob­vi­ously, I re­gret that.

“So, whilst we are now putting in place the mea­sures to strengthen fi­nan­cial gover­nance sys­tems and to pro­vide ro­bust fi­nan­cial ste­ward­ship for the com­pany, I be­lieve it will be ap­pro­pri­ate for me to move on.”

HS2 Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Mark Thurston said Allen had been “ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal” in iden­ti­fy­ing ways to rec­tify is­sues iden­ti­fied in the NAO’s re­port and DfT man­age­ment let­ter, de­scrib­ing his de­ci­sion to leave the com­pany as “honourable.”

Nine rec­om­men­da­tions were made in the man­age­ment let­ter, in­clud­ing en­sur­ing that bet­ter records are kept, en­cour­ag­ing a “greater con­scious­ness within the com­pany of the need to work within the let­ter and spirit of doc­u­ments like Man­ag­ing Pub­lic Money.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.