HS2 Ltd has found itself at the centre of the scandal about civil servants being kept off the books in tax avoidance arrangements, as the largest amount known to be paid to anyone under these arrangements has gone to the HS2 Commercial Director, Mark Bayley. Mr Bayley costs the taxpayer over £450,000 per year on up to £1,799 per day. Investigations by the Daily Telegraph have revealed that throughout the civil service at least 70 people have been paid at least £1,000/day, benefitting from the same method of payment which played a factor in turning voters in London away from Ken Livingstone, that payment is made to a company owned by ‘employees’, meaning as the Government puts it that ‘tax avoidance could be taking place.’
HS2 Ltd has been beset with questions over the level of pay top brass have been earning for a while. Recently 71 year old Douglas Oakervee was appointed the new chair of the company on £140,000 for just a two day a week and CEO Alison Munro was reappointed on £125,000. After advertising recently for four jobs, including the head of PR on £97k, HS2 Ltd is now advertising for a new Commercial Director on £155k and a Technical Director on £170k. Both these current vacancies will net a salary greater than the Prime Minister, but still nothing compared to the potentially tax-avoiding deal Bayley has been on until now.
In defence of their actions a HS2 Ltd spokesman said;
“In order to attract the highest quality candidates it is necessary to offer competitive rates of remuneration. We needed commercial expertise on board to ensure that arrangements for the possible next stage of design development were based on sound commercial principles to give best value for money.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said;
“HS2 Ltd have proved yet again that they do not care how much taxpayers money they throw at this project. These eye-watering salaries just prove that whether you are getting contracts to help build HS2 or just working in the office, this is truly a gravy train. It is clear that burning taxpayers money on HS2 is simply standard practice and from top to bottom that those working to progress this project and lobbying for it are in it for themselves, they don’t care what is in the best interests of the country as a whole.”
“This investigation has only turned over one rock so far, but there are said to be over 2,500 people in the civil service and quangos on these deals set up to avoid tax. The question now is how many other such arrangements have their been in HS2 Ltd, as we find it hard to believe that Bayley is the only one.”