HS2 chief financial officer Steve Allen is to leave the organisation months after the National Audit Office warned of unauthorised redundancy payments on the megaproject.
Allen spoke of his “regret” over assurances made to the board over redundancies and said it was “appropriate” for him to move on at the end of the financial year.
NAO auditor general Sir Amyas Morse said in July that HS2 made £1.76M of redundancy payments in 2016/17 that were unauthorised by the government. His report said there was a need for improvements in the company’s general control environment
Allen said this week: “High Speed 2 is a hugely important project for the future of Britain and it has been a great privilege to have been part of the process of putting in place the foundation stones for its successful delivery.
“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 chief executive Mark Thurston said Allen had been “critical” in identifying ways to rectify “issues” including redundancy mechanisms.
“Having done that, I respect Steve’s decision that now is the right time for him to move on,” he added.
“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.”