Government vetoes 'unacceptable' exit package for former NCS Trust chief

Ministers have begun a governance review of the organisation after a newspaper claimed that outgoing chief executive Michael Lynas was given £15,000 to help him retrain

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has launched a governance review of the National Citizen Service Trust after the department vetoed an “unacceptable” exit package for the trust’s former chief executive.

An article in the Sunday Mirror newspaper yesterday claimed that Michael Lynas was given £15,000 as part of a retraining package after he decided to leave the NCS Trust, and was to work as paid consultant for the organisation after his departure.

He was originally due to stay in post until the spring or summer, but instead left on Friday, with the former Waitrose executive Mark Gifford becoming the new chief executive today.

Neither the DCMS nor the NCS Trust would comment directly on the £15,000 claim, but Third Sector understands the department told the trust that its chief executive’s notice period could be for a maximum of only three months and the department had not agreed to allow Lynas to remain at the organisation for any longer.

The trust said Lynas would not receive an exit package.

The DCMS also told the trust that it did not agree with any money being used on Lynas’s learning and development, and instructed the NCS Trust to immediately stop providing those services.

The NCS Trust was told to ensure that Lynas’s departure complied with HM Treasury guidance on managing public money.

A DCMS spokesman said: “Earlier this month we were made aware of an unacceptable exit package proposed for the outgoing NCS chief executive.

“We have taken swift action to stop this and are investigating wider issues around governance.

“A new chief executive joins the NCS from today and we are clear that we expect the organisation to be completely focused on helping level up the country with strong opportunities for young people from all backgrounds."

The spokesman told Third Sector that the review of NCS governance would be led by senior officials, but there was no timescale on how long it would take.

An NCS spokeswoman said: “The terms of Mr Lynas’s departure were agreed in good faith by the NCS Trust board in December 2019 and the trust has worked closely with the DCMS to ensure that we comply with government procedures.

“Michael Lynas stepped down as chief executive of the trust on Friday and will not receive an exit package, nor will he be a consultant for the organisation.

“Mark Gifford has joined the trust today as chief executive after a hugely successful career at the John Lewis Partnership.”

The NCS Trust declined to comment further on the exit package that was originally agreed with Lynas.

The NCS has been given royal charter status and receives more than £180m in government funding each year.

The NCS has faced criticism for failing to hit some of the participation targets and has been accused of being overly expensive and of taking funding from other youth projects.

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