Downing Street and senior civil servants have approved a pay packet in excess of £200,000 for the next chief executive of High Speed Two, the heavily criticised £32bn London to Birmingham rail link proposal.
Pay packets of more than the prime minister's annual salary of £142,500 for roles in the public sector have to be cleared by senior mandarins. Number 10 and the Treasury were circumspect at paying the HS2 boss quite so much, but have approved the salary on the basis that there is no bonus on top of what is understood to be a basic of £200,000-£230,000. It is understood that the debate over pay had delayed interviews on the chief executive short list.
The current boss Alison Munro, a secondee from the Department for Transport, has thrown her hat into the ring, having previously decided to return to Whitehall. However, the lack of bonus means she is now considered by many to be the favourite as many candidates from the private sector would want a greater incentive package.