Spending watchdog demands greater HS2 scrutiny

Aaron Morby 2 years ago
Share

Parliament’s spending watchdog has demanded far greater scrutiny of HS2 costs and programme delivery in a damning report that accuses the transport department of hiding details of overspending and hold-ups.

Meg Hillier, the MP who chairs the PAC, says MPs are concerned about how open the Department and HS2 Ltd executives have been in their account of HS2
Meg Hillier, the MP who chairs the PAC, says MPs are concerned about how open the Department and HS2 Ltd executives have been in their account of HS2

The powerful public accounts committee slams the Department for Transport and HS2 for lack of transparency, warning it has undermined public confidence in the programme.

The critical report highlights serious concerns about the early failure to report that the project had gone badly off-course as the budget soared from £56bn to £88bn.

Committee MPs also said they were concerned that several years into the programme, huge uncertainty remained with the design and delivery of Euston station.

The report calls for DfT within six months to set out its plan for Euston, including how it will be delivered and how it will ensure effective working between all stakeholders.

They also questioned whether DfT and HS2 Ltd had the skills and capability they need now or in the future.

“A lack of capability continues to be an issue; HS2 Ltd recently assessed that while it had improved its capabilities in most areas, it still has gaps in key areas such as risk management and assurance, project management and project controls.

“Now that it is bearing more of the risk of cost increases, HS2 Ltd also needs to ensure that it has the right commercial skills to manage its revised contractual arrangements with its main construction contractors,” says the report.

In its recommendations to Government, the Committee is seeking new, formal assurances that DfT and HS2 Ltd have the capability to manage the programme and its supply chain, into construction and through to completion.

Committee chair Meg Hillier MP said: “In the six-monthly reports the Department has now agreed to give us, we want to see an honest, open account, and evidence of learning from past mistakes being applied to bring this project under control, to deliver it within the timeline and budget that have been agreed in justifying the project.”

Committee’s Deputy Chair Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said: “This PAC report on HS2 is one of the most critical, in both the transparency of Government and the handling of a project, that I have seen in my nine years in total on the committee.

“The Permanent Secretary appeared before the committee in October 2018 and again in May 2019.

“In March 2019 HS2 Ltd formally told the Department it had breached the terms of the Development Agreement, and would be unable to deliver the programme to cost and schedule – yet the Permanent Secretary did not inform the committee on either appearance that the programme was in trouble.

“This is a serious breach of the department’s duty to Parliament and hence to the public, which as the report says, will undermine confidence.

“Furthermore, the PAC was in the dark about serious cost overruns and was therefore unable to do its duty to inform Parliament that value for money on the project was at risk.

“The cost overruns have been blamed partly on the speed that the hybrid Bill committee for Phase One proceeded with. I was a member of that committee, which lasted for 20 months: this is complete nonsense.”

Latest news

HS2 launches first Midlands TBM

BBV launches Dorothy on first one-mile long bore in Warwickshire
3 days ago

Construction slavery gang busted – five convicted

Romanian victims were promised £50 a day to work on site but were saddled with false debts
3 days ago

New chief named for O’Connor Utilities group

Michael Hughes was formely chief financial officer at Issa brothers owned EG Group
2 days ago

Multiplex aims for woman-led teams at one in 10 projects

Social equity manifesto to tackle lack of female leadership, excessive hours and slow payments
2 days ago

Trio shortlisted for third £115m A9 dualling project

Balfour, Graham and Wills Bros in chase for 9.6km Tomatin to Moy dualling
3 days ago

Plan for £2bn Edinburgh West Town

7,000 homes plan for 200-acre site in West Edinburgh
3 days ago

Morgan Sindall starts £31m Leeds resi scheme

Work starts on 16-storey stepped Springwell Gardens apartment block
3 days ago

Race starts for £200m M5 Junction 10 Improvements

Cheltenham junction upgrade will see new roundabout built above the motorway
3 days ago

New boss at Balfour Beatty Kilpatrick

Will Smith joins from consultant Cummins
3 days ago

Contractors battle Storm Arwen to replace rail bridge

BAM Nuttall, Atkins WSP Joint Venture successfully completes marathon 78-hour installation
3 days ago

Bids called for £835m South London council estate upgrade

London Borough of Southwark is on the hunt for four firms to deliver housing estate upgrades
3 days ago

Willmott Dixon to build £21m net zero Preston school

Tarleton Academy will be net zero in operation
3 days ago

Veteran pair leave Currie & Brown

End of an era as David Broomer and Euan McEwan retire
3 days ago

Balfour Beatty launches neurodiverse site cabins

Cabins adapted for visually impaired and light-sensitive builders will become standard on Balfour sites
4 days ago

26 firms win £7bn schools framework – full list

B&K, Willmott Dixon, BAM, Kier and Wates chalk up both northern and southern major project lots
5 days ago

French specialist Matière to install HS2 cut and cover tunnels

Stanton Precast wins pre-cast segment deal for 'green tunnels'
5 days ago

Scottish house builder buys rival for £56m

Springfield buys Tulloch Homes to expand presence in the Highlands
4 days ago

Wates wins contract for underground houses

Construction to start next year on earth sheltered homes in Battle, East Sussex
5 days ago

VAT dodging electrician banned for five years

Company director barred after Insolvency Service probe
5 days ago

£11m in extra brownfield grants awarded – list

Twenty-three sites receive brownfield funding in second tranche of grants
5 days ago

GMI lands £30m helicopter logistic hub

Building work starts on Yeovil hub for manufacturer Leonardo
5 days ago

HS2 Euston team to get architect-designed site huts

Up to 2,500 workers and 150 students could be using the welfare facility on a daily basis
5 days ago

Firms readied for £1.3bn highways surfacing framework

Second supplier day to be held on 2 December ahead of March tender invite
5 days ago

Countryside Properties sets aside £41m for recladding

Progress made towards becoming 100% focused lower risk Partnerships business
5 days ago

BAM pairing takes £26m Sunderland train station

Demolition work will start next year on first phase southern entrance area
5 days ago

Osborne wins £21m London City grade II interior refurb

Work to start in the New Year on 84 Moorgate upgrade
6 days ago

Bouygues bags latest phase of Portobello Square regen

Construction to start next summer on North Kensington site
6 days ago

VolkerFitzpatrick wins £26m storage sheds deal

Firm has delivered several projects at the Daventry International Rail Terminal over 11 years
6 days ago

Massive Stewart Milne development goes into administration

Countesswells new town now in hands of administrators
1 week ago

Race starts for £2.5bn Ministry of Justice framework

Frameworks cover projects up to £30m and are divided into regional lots
6 days ago

Contractor services