HS2 and its spending binge at taxpayers' expense

Over the weekend we exposed that HS2 Ltd, the body charged with delivering the unnecessary and expensive white elephant, has already wasted an eye-watering sum of taxpayers’ money. Using publicly available data on the Department for Transport website, we revealed that HS2 Ltd has already spent well over £300 million on external payments.

Only the first ten months of data is available for 2013, but it is clear that there has been a massive escalation in HS2's spending. Between January and October of 2013 HS2 spent £170 million. Of course a large scale project of this nature will incur external costs, but the scale and nature of much of this spending suggests incredibly lax spending controls at a time when government must relentlessly cut waste and ease the burden on taxpayers. In fact, even if you thought the grandiose rail project was justified by its incredibly weak economic case, you would still question many of the items detailed in this spending binge.

This data is made available each month on the DFT website but in order to facilitate scrutiny of HS2 Ltd, we've collated every month’s data and put it into one spreadsheet.

You can download it here. As new data comes available we will update the document.

Thanks to TPA analysis of the data we know HS2 is rather fond of spending taxpayers’ money on PR and lobbying. In just 10 months of 2013 it spent over £1 million on PR, external lobbying and media. I’ve written before about HS2’s dodgy PR work , and no amount of spin is going to improve the case for the line.

Speaking of spin, the new HS2 chief executive has been in the media today as part of the latest PR push for the project. “It's going to be delivered quickly and that costs are going to be controlled” he said. At the same time ministers announced a new further education college to train the next generation of engineers to work on the construction of high speed rail (although no mention of how much that will cost or whether it will be added to the ever expanding HS2 budget).

Here’s just a few of the areas we’ve questioned in recent HS2 spending:

    • Analysis shows that HS2’s external lobbying, PR and media bill was at least £1,206,302 in 2012 and 2013. This includes fees for media training, media monitoring, public speaking training, productions of promotional videos and PR qualifications for staff, among others.


    • Tomboy films received £86,044 “To Supply Films For The Launch Of HS2 Phase Two and then a further £42,113 for the “Creation of a stump film - alternative endings. The Surgery Design & Digital Ltd also received payments valuing 30,600 in 2013 for 2 animated films.


    • HS2 LTD has spent £9,893,072 on “agency fees”, nearly all going on employment agencies and £312,199.12 on recruitment fees. HS2 has said in it’s own accounts it is worried about its reliance on agency staff.


    • M-is, a branding company was given, £1,380,905 in 2013 as part of a contract for “Consultation Event Management”. Meanwhile KPMG, which produced the controversial regional economic impact analysis has been paid £2.3 million by HS2 Ltd


    • HS2 Ltd has paid the Department for Communities Local Government £1,444,797 just in rent since 2012. It’s also paid £510,349 to Arc Firepro Limited for improvements to its leasehold.


    • HS2 spent £10,668 paid for New Civil Engineers “Graduate Award Category” and £1,032 to Wallacespace Ltd for room hire for an “Exec Team Away Day”.


    • £5,047.2 for a “Health & Wellbeing Event At Eland House”, Paid the Institution of Engineering £3,980.26 for “Vision into Reality event” as part of an “Events and Seminars programme” expense and £30,000 for “Rail Infrastructure Space” also as part of an “Events and Seminars programme” expense.

This is just a few examples. If you spot anything else in the data then do leave a comment below.

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