POLITICS
27/12/2013 07:20 GMT | Updated 25/01/2014 16:01 GMT

Private Sector Experts Called In To Save Universal Credit, HS2 Projects

Oli Scarff via Getty Images
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith delivers his speech to the Conservative party conference in the International Convention Centre on October 8, 2012 in Birmingham, England. The annual, four-day Conservative party conference began yesterday and features speeches from Cabinet ministers and the Mayor of London. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

The government is drafting in around one hundred private sector troubleshooters to save some of their riskiest projects, like the flagship Universal Credit benefits reform and the High Speed Rail (HS2) project.

The experts, from management consultancy and other industries, will help monitor new contracts and bulk purchasing across the public sector, the Times reports.

This comes after ministers came under fire for projects like Universal Credit, which was branded an "unmitigated disaster" by MPs for coming in massively over-budget and on track to miss its 2017 deadline for full implementation.

Earlier this month, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: "It’s clear that David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith have completely failed to get to grips with their flagship welfare reform and millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been written off as a result."

Meanwhile, the High Speed Rail 2 project has continued to be a source of political tension as Tory MPs and former Labour ministers rail against it. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has suggested he could kill off the "mismanaged" scheme were Labour to win the next election.

Lord Mandelson, ex-business secretary under the last Labour government, said the scheme would "suck the lifeblood" out of the rest of Britain.