Sunday 23 July 2017

Murky figures at HS2 as public money goes down the drain

The figures associated with the HS2 project are so vast that they are hard to grasp. The world's most expensive railways at £400,000,000 per mile LINK with experts predicting a doubling of total cost to £104bn suggest the project is a high speed white elephant, particularly as the government has quietly ditched plans to improve current rail routes.

At the same time Carillion, one of the main contractors appointed by the government, is facing its own financial crisis and has lost its Chief Executive in the process. LINK

Fears about the reliability of HS2's figures have not been helped by the National Audit Office's recent findings about unauthorised payments by the company.  They spent £2.76m on pay-offs in 2016 of which only £1m was authorised.  The redundancy payments were prompted by a head office move and reorganisation and were made above the civil service cap of £95,000 despite advice from the Department of Transport.

The Guardian LINK reports that HS2 circumvented the cap by placing highly paid staff on gardening leave and continuing to pay them for several months despite the fact that they were no longer working and adding the maximum payout.  67 staff were made compulsorily redundant at a total costs of up to £916.000 when statutory compensation would have totalled between £55,000-£115,00. A further 27 staff were given voluntary redundancy packages worth £1.84m with 8 people on a salary of more than £150,000 receiving up to £200,000  each.

This is of course public money.

The HS2 Director of Financial Operations is Clive Heaphy, former Director of Finance and Corporate Services at Brent Council. Previously he was Interim Director of Finance at Ofsted under Christine Gilbert, later CEO of Brent Council.

Heaphy left Brent Council after negotiating an exit payout of £145,508. LINK


Anonymous said...

Rumour has it that Davani used Heaphy's Brent payout in 2012 as a reason why she should be given a Brent payout in 2015. Dodgy leaving packages seem to follow them around!!!

Philip Grant said...

Dear Anonymous (23 July at 20:00),

If you (or any other Brent employee or councillor at the time) have any information about the £157k pay-off to Cara Davani, which shows that it may have been "dodgy", please send that information to me.

If you know my email address, please send it direct; otherwise, please send it via Martin (whose email address is shown under the "Guest Blogs" heading in the column on the right).

The objectors to Brent's accounts, over this payment to Cara Davani, are still waiting to receive documents from the Auditor, so that we can make further comments to support our objections. Any additional evidence we could use would be gratefully received!


rupert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rupert said...

Did Clive Heaphy do the same at hs2?

Rumour has it that whilst at hs2 Clive Heaphy approved the unauthorised redundancy payments (leading to hs'2 accounts being qualified) - a state of affairs that led to Clive Heaphy himself then going on paid garden leave before hs2's unauthorised redundancy payments to him.

Remember it is taxpayers' money we are talking about here.

Anonymous said...

It seems - fresh from allegedly overseeing an accounting anomaly at HS2, having previously been involved in another alleged anomaly whilst at Brent Council - Clive Heaphy has moved on to the CFO S151 post at Haringey Council.

At Haringey, Clive Heaphy joins Tracie Evans (Deputy Chief Executive)

Tracie Evans previously admitted to forgery - actions which seemed to bring CIPFA (and the accounting profession) as well as Haringey Council into disrepute.

Congratulations go to Haringey Council for finding a such a good fit in shared values in their recent appointment of Clive Heaphy.

As well as shared values, Clive and Tracey are both CIPFA members.