Taxpayers’ cash is being wasted by ministers on vanity projects such as HS2, slams watchdog

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Taxpayers’ cash is being thrown away by “unqualified” Ministers indulging in vanity projects such as HS2, Britain’s spending watchdog claims.

National Audit Office chief Sir Amyas Morse slammed the “unaccountable bravado” with which Ministers are spending public money.

Ministers have been attacked for spending money on vanity projects like HS2
Ministers have been slammed for wasting taxpayers’ cash on ‘vanity projects’ such as HS2
Getty Images – Getty

He attacked the “massive cost overruns” on the high speed rail link and also the roll out of smart meters.

And he called for the Ministerial code to be rewritten to include a commitment to delivering value for money.

Speaking in London he said: “Ministers increasingly see themselves as chief executives but sometimes without the qualifications to justify that. We need big bold ideas, but backed by rigorous professionalism.”

The blistering attack comes just two months after Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss hinted the £60 billion HS2 link could be scrapped amid spiralling costs.

She said the Government must be prepared to “junk white elephant” infrastructure projects. In a damning verdict last November, the NAO said the government’s smart meter programme had been derailed by rising costs and sliding timescales.


The Government had expected the cost of the programme to be £11 billion just three years ago. It already believes the cost will be £500 million higher. And the NAO warned there was no chance of hitting a 2020 roll-out deadline.

In 2017, the NAO slammed HS2 for unauthorised redundancy payments to staff that smashed the cap on payouts. It showed the rail link spent £2.76 million on payouts in 2016, only £1 million of which was authorised.

Last year, the watchdog said the cost of buying land had tripled in just six years to £3.3 billion following changes to the route.

National Audit Office chief Sir Amyas Morse shas slammed'unqualified' ministers for splurging public money on vanity projects
National Audit Office chief Sir Amyas Morse shas slammed ‘unqualified’ ministers for splurging public money on vanity projects
PA:Press Association

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