Government admit they do not know or care what HS2 costs are

Two separate freedom of information requests have revealed that the UK Government does not have a current cost estimate for the HS2 project, and does not intend to create one. Whilst it is often reported that the HS2 project has an estimated cost of £50bn, that figure is still based on prices as they were in 2011. As such, Independent Chiltern District Councillor Seb Berry submitted this freedom of information request to both HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport:

“The estimated £50 billion cost of HS2 (including both phases, rolling stock and contingency) is always expressed in 2011 prices, but what is your latest estimate of the current cost of the scheme in 2015 prices?”

Whilst Councillor Berry received an overdue reply from HS2 Ltd which simply stated “We do not hold this information”, the Department for Transport arrogantly dismissed the need to know where the costs are, with their HS2 briefing and correspondence manager stating:

“I am writing to advise you that following a thorough search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is not held by this Department because we have no business need to estimate the cost of HS2 in 2015 prices.”

Councillor Berry responded:

“It beggars belief that Ministers don’t know what the current price tag of HS2 is. Surely the DfT must know the answer to this most basic of questions? In their own PR terms it’s obviously better for Government and HS2 Ltd to keep using the lower 2011 prices figure, a fact rarely, if ever, explained in media coverage of the scheme. With each passing year however, the government’s failure to confirm the cost in current prices begins to look like deliberate misinformation rather than convenient spin.”

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin added:

“The arrogance from the Department for Transport, not just that they don’t know the current price of HS2, but that they don’t see any need to know what it is, is both astounding and completely irresponsible. You would have thought that the Government might think that the effect of inflation, especially when construction wage inflation was four times that of average wages and three times general inflation last year*, is important when they started with a cost of £32bn in 2010  and are already up to £50bn. The Government’s own figures for public sector construction show that the cost of contracts went up by 13% between 2011 and 2014, but they are choosing not to apply this fact to the cost of HS2, because it will damage the case for their vanity project.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said

“With spending on HS2 expected to be several billion a year in the next few years, it is inconceivable that they do not keep track of the expected costs to the British taxpayer.  If they don’t know what things should cost in current terms at a time when they are negotiating contracts with suppliers, they will never be able to keep control of the budget in the future. There is just too great a potential for errors and massive overspends.”

“David Higgins tried to find ways of reducing costs when he was appointed chair of HS2. Not only did he completely fail, but he found the only way to stop the costs from skyrocketing was to ditch the proposed links to Heathrow and HS1. HS2 is vastly expensive, at the bottom of most people’s wish lists, and should be cancelled as soon as possible.”

*In November 2014 the Office for National Statistics reported that average wage inflation was 0.9%, whilst in the construction sector it was 3.6%. The average salary for a Project Manager was up by over 10%. The CPI measure of general inflation was at 1.2%.

4 comments to “Government admit they do not know or care what HS2 costs are”
  1. Pingback: HS2 set to ignore requirements of Parliamentary Act on accounting timetable.

  2. Pingback: STOP HS2 | McLoughlin relaunches HS2 yet again.

    • We are being treated with contempt by this government.
      It is our money being wasted but no one feels any moral duty to justify the cost to us.
      Nearly everybody, apart from our government and of course the EMPLOYEES OF HS2 (wages paid again by us taxpayers) wants this whole HS2 project to be STOPPED NOW before any more taxpayers money is spent.

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