politics

Spiralling costs and years of delays to major Government projects, report shows


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The annual Infrastructure and Projects Authority study revealed the risks posed to flagship schemes trumpeted by ministers

The HS2 railway to Leeds was rated a red risk by experts

Nearly £200billion worth of major government projects including new Army vehicles, HS2’s eastern leg and the coronavirus catch-up scheme for kids are in doubt, according to experts.

When the Infrastructure and Projects Authority issued its first monitoring report on big Whitehall programmes in 2015/16, some 44 schemes with combined total lifetime costs of £107.2billion were rated red or amber/red.

A red categorisation means delivery “appears to be unachievable” and there are major issues with “project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or delivery of benefits”, which “do not appear to be manageable or resolvable”.

It adds: “The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.”







Deals worth billions of pounds were scrutinised



An amber-red classification means successful delivery of the project “is in doubt with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible”.

Labour researchers said the IPA’s latest annual 62-page report has 51 projects with a joint total lifetime cost of £194.8billion rated red or amber/red.

Across projects that were in both last year’s study and the 2021 update, a total of 29 years of delays were added to expected completion dates.

The schemes plunged into doubt include high-profile, billion-pound spending programmes trumpeted by ministers.

Trials of the Army’s £5.5bn Ajax Armoured Vehicle have been halted after complaints about noise affecting the crew.







The Ajax Armoured Vehicle deal was rated a high risk



The Ministry of Defence signed a contract for 589 of the vehicles in 2014 and has already spent nearly £3.5bn on the flagship programme.

Only 14 non-turreted variants have been delivered and, after five years of being in the amber category, the scheme has been rated red.

The HS2 railway’s eastern leg is due to link London and Birmingham with Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham, with 225mph trains thundering across the East Midlands and into Yorkshire.








Fresh doubts were raised over HS2’s eastern leg
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But there are ongoing fears the Government will scale back the plan – dubbed Phase 2b – or axe it altogether when it publishes its delayed Integrated Rail Plan next month.

It also received a red rating.

The £2bn National Tutoring Programme, a key part of the Government’s Covid-19 catch-up response for schools, was launched last October 2020 to give extra tuition to the poorest pupils.

But a National Audit Office report in March warned it may not be reaching the most disadvantaged children.








The education catch-up scheme was given a red rating
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It was also given a red rating.

Labour urged ministers to speed-up delivery of flagship projects when the Government publishes its spending review later this year.

Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said: “This is a classic story of government waste – delaying projects and delivering poorly.








Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson
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Image:

Getty)



“As we look ahead to the spending review this autumn, we need to hear less re-announcement campaigns from the Government and see more of them getting on with the work of delivering what they’ve already promised.

“Labour will buy, make and sell more in Britain as a priority for our recovery so we can get major projects our country needs back on track, boost British businesses and get our economy firing on all cylinders.”

A Government spokesman said: “The percentage of projects categorised as ‘red or amber/red’ has fallen during the five-year timeframe, demonstrating the work being done across government to ensure projects are managed efficiently.

“In order to increase successful project delivery, we have expanded the number of projects joining the Major Projects Portfolio, which provides extra oversight and scrutiny.”

Whitehall sources also said comparing costs between five years did not account for inflation.





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