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HS2 redundancy pay 'shocking waste' of taxpayer cash

From BBC - December 14, 2017

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 from London to Birmingham.

A combination of compulsory and voluntary redundancy schemes were offered on enhanced terms, resulting in a total bill of 2.76m, despite instructions from the Department of Transport that they should be at statutory rates, which would have incurred payments of 1m, MPs on the committee said.

The MPs' report says that HS2's chief executive at the time, Simon Kirby, had an email from the government telling him that he was not allowed to offer staff larger, enhanced redundancy payments when the firm relocated.

But it says Mr Kirby did not pass that email on to anyone else.

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