Number of Highways England bosses on £100k salaries rockets from six to 63 since 2013
- Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is investigating, said rise is ‘off the scale’
- Total bill at taxpayer-funded quango for executive pay is more than £8.5 million
- Jim O’Sullivan was given £54,000 pay rise bringing total earnings to £456,727
The number of Highways England bosses on six-figure salaries has rocketed from six to 63 since 2013. The rise was described as ‘off the scale’ by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured), who is investigating
The number of Highways England bosses on six-figure salaries has rocketed from six to 63 since 2013.
The rise was described as ‘off the scale’ by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who is investigating.
In all, the taxpayer-funded quango has 63 executives pocketing salaries in excess of £100,000 – compared with 26 in 2017 and just six in 2013.
The total bill for executive pay stands at more than £8.5 million. Meanwhile, lower-ranking staff have had their pay rises capped at 1 per cent until 2025.
Highways England looks after the motorways and major A-roads. It receives about £3 billion a year from the Treasury and employs 5,000 staff including maintenance workers, traffic officers and surveyors.
An overwhelming number of staff voted to strike in a recent poll organised by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), although turnout was not high enough to proceed. Future strikes could see essential road upgrade and repair works grind to a halt and threaten driver safety.
Lilian Greenwood, who was chairman of the Commons transport committee before the election, has written to Highways England asking why the number of high-earning executives has risen so sharply.
Critics last night accused the quango of taking advantage of taxpayers. The number of people killed on Britain’s motorways has increased by 8 per cent since 2017. Highways England is also facing an inquiry into the safety of smart motorways, where the hard shoulder is removed to cut congestion, following a spate of fatal collisions.
One of the 63 bosses is chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, who was awarded an inflation-busting £54,000 pay rise last year, including a performance-related bonus of £51,727
And official figures show that drivers are suffering horrendous congestion on motorways – including 17 sections where the average speed is below 30mph.
One of the 63 bosses is chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, who was awarded an inflation-busting £54,000 pay rise last year, including a performance-related bonus of £51,727 – bringing his total earnings to £456,727. Last month, Mr O’Sullivan was mauled by MPs after he admitted drivers had been killed because of delays in installing technology to spot broken-down vehicles on smart motorways.
Four people were killed on the M1 in ten months after being hit by traffic in a live lane that used to be the hard shoulder.
The findings about executive pay emerged in a Freedom of Information response.
Speaking in the Commons last month, Mr Shapps said: ‘I think some of these salaries have gone off the scale and I am already addressing it.’
Last night he added: ‘Hard-working users of our roads rightly expect that such high salaries should be linked to improvements in performance. A Conservative government will hold executives to account.’
Official figures show that drivers are suffering horrendous congestion on motorways – including 17 sections where the average speed is below 30mph
John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Over-taxed motorists will rightly feel serious road rage in reaction to the ridiculous executive pay increases. This quango is taking taxpayers for a ride.’
The PCS has also been campaigning on the issue – and is balloting staff on the possibility of striking.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘It’s a bit rich for Highways England to claim they can only afford a 1 per cent pay rise for our members when the combined pay of 63 executives is in excess of £8 million.’
Highways England referred all queries to the Department for Transport, which is unable to comment due to the ‘purdah’ period ahead of the election.