Select Committees to question Motability heads on pay and governance

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On Wednesday 9 January 2019 in a specially convened joint sitting of the Treasury and Work and Pensions Committees, the National Audit Office (NAO) and heads of Motability will be questioned on the finances and operations of Motability, which leases cars to disabled people in exchange for part of their PIP disability benefit.

On 7 December last year, the NAO published a report that raised serious questions about the governance of the Motability scheme. It highlighted the extraordinarily high levels of reserves and executive pay at Motability Operations, which administers the car leasing scheme. Mike Betts, Chief Executive of Motability Operations which administers the car leasing scheme, announced his resignation the same day.

The NAO investigation was sparked following a joint inquiry by the two Committees in May 2018, which concluded that Motability "badly needs a new roadmap" for its finances. The NAO report exposed the full extent of a planned bonus for the Chief Executive which Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field MP branded  “obscene”, adding “despite a joint select committee inquiry earlier this year, this is the first time these figures have been out in the open. Motability Operations now has serious questions to answer about the information they provided to Parliament. With reserves on this scale, and the cutting of executive rewards long overdue, there is now huge scope to improve the lives of hosts of disabled claimants without asking taxpayers for a penny more. Will the government act now?" The Chair had previously expressed concern at the Government’s response to the Committees’ joint inquiry, saying it did “nothing to address" the issues they uncovered.

In addition to questions about their previous evidence, reserves and remuneration, Motability executives and the NAO and will be questioned on practical aspects of their operations such as how they value the cars they lease and whether this results in overcharging their customers (and so taxpayers), the considerable size of recently reported donations from Motability Operations to its charitable arm, Motability, and whether the state support provided through tax reliefs offer value for public money in an organisation that operates as a monopoly. 

The hearing, which can be viewed live on Parliament TV, is scheduled as follows:

At 09:30

  • Sir Amyas Morse, Comptroller and Auditor General, National Audit Office
  • Louise Bladen, VFM Director, National Audit Office
  • Stephen Smith, Executive Leader, National Audit Office

At approximately 10:20

  • Lord Sterling of Plaistow, Chair, Motability Charity
  • Paul Atkinson CBE, Director, Motability Charity

At approximately 10:50

  • Neil Johnson, Chair, Motability Operations Ltd
  • Mike Betts, Chief Executive, Motability Operations Ltd
  • Neill Thomas, Independent Non-Executive Director and Chair, Remuneration Committee, Motability Operations Ltd

* Read the report of the previous joint inquiry by the Committees in May 2018 here

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