Number of HS2 staff ‘paid more than £100k rises’

9 Aug 18

A quarter of High Speed2 staff are paid more than £100,000 in salary and perks, it has been revealed.

A total of 318 staff on the controversial railway project received a six-figure salary in 2017-18 compared to 155 workers in 2015-16, according to data obtained by The Times.

Freedom of information requests by the newspaper also revealed that the government sponsored company - HS2 Ltd - also spent more than £600m on consultants in 2017-18.

Data showed that 112 people are receiving more than £150,000 annually- 15 of which are paid more than £251,000.

The pay figures include pension contributions, salaries and bonuses.

Last year, the Public Accounts Committee claimed that HS2 lacked “basic financial controls” and was wasting taxpayers’ money on redundancy payments.

An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said: “In a highly technical project of the scale and complexity of HS2 it is necessary to employ the right level of expertise and knowledge to deliver the programme successfully.

“HS2 Ltd is committed to controlling costs and take our responsibility to taxpayers money very seriously, and the programme remains on track and within our funding envelope.”

The first phase of the project, which will build a high-speed train line between London and Birmingham, is expected to cost £56bn and be running by 2026, but has recently been beset by delays.

Environmental campaigners and local groups affected by the plans have voiced their opposition to the project.

Liz Hutchins, director of campaigns at Friends of Earth, an environmental group, said: “The spiralling costs of HS2 are a diversion from the investment desperately needed in our creaking rail network.”

At least 47 of the salaries over £142,500 were signed off by chief secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss after also being approved by transport secretary Chris Grayling.

Shadow Treasury minister Lyn Brown said: “Liz Truss should hang her head in shame for signing off the use of taxpayers' money to fund the extortionate pay packets of HS2 bosses.”

A government spokesperson said: “We are keeping a tough grip on costs and the HS2 project remains on budget at £55.7bn.

On Sunday, Sir John Armitt, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, suggested that ministers must spend an extra £43bn to make the construction of HS2 worthwhile.

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