HS2 finance chief steps down after redundancy scandal

 

HS2 Ltd's chief financial officer, Steve Allen, has resigned following a scandal that saw the public body pay out close to £2m in unnecessary redundancy payments.

The government firm responsible for developing the £55bn high speed rail project wasted an estimated £1.76m by paying over the statutory rates authorised by the Department for Transport and despite direct instructions from Whitehall not to offer such generous terms.

”Local
Steve Allen

The mistake was revealed by a damning National Audit Office report this summer, which revealed a string of errors by HS2 Ltd and reiterated warnings over management 'weaknesses'.

In a statement Mr 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, while 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 Ltd chief executive, Mark Thurston, said: 'When I joined the organisation earlier this year we faced a number of issues that needed to be addressed, particularly around our administrative controls and mechanisms on redundancies agreed by the company, as highlighted by the recent NAO report into High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd’s annual accounts.

'Steve has been absolutely critical in identifying the ways to rectify those issues and make sure they do not happen again.

'But, having done that, I respect Steve’s decision that now is the right time for him to move on. I would like to thank him for all he has done for the company in this formative period. His honourable decision will enable me to build the executive team for the next phase of the project.'

Mr Allen joined HS2 Ltd from Transport for London in October 2015 and will leave his post at the end of the financial year.

 

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