Minister urges regulator to re-examine Motability

Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, tells parliament the Charity Commission should re-open a review of the charity after it was revealed that the chief executive of a related company was paid £1.7m

Esther McVey
Esther McVey

Esther McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has called on the Charity Commission to re-examine the disability car charity Motability after recent revelations about senior executive pay.

Earlier this week, Motability was criticised after a connected company, Motability Operations Group, was found to have paid its chief executive £1.7m in the year to 30 September 2017, including a long-term incentive scheme payment of almost £727,000.

The company also has reserves of £2.4bn, its accounts show.

After an urgent question from the Labour MP John Mann in parliament yesterday, McVey said she wanted the Charity Commission to review Motability, despite the claims about high pay and reserves referring to a private company that is outside the regulator’s jurisdiction.

The commission said in a statement earlier this week that it had recently carried out a detailed review of the charity’s financial accounts and its relationship with the company, but did not identify any regulatory concerns.

That statement added that the salary of the Motability Operations Group’s chief executive "might be considered excessive and might raise reputational issues for the charity".

Speaking in parliament, McVey, who is the Conservative MP for Tatton, said the review of Motability "needs to start again" and the Charity Commission "should again look into what has happened".

McVey said she had asked the National Audit Office to investigate Motability Operations Group, which helps to run a government-backed car scheme for disabled people.

"Although the remuneration of its directors and managers is a matter for Motability Operations to decide, from the outside one has to question whether it is really right," she said.

"This scheme, which was set up with the best intentions and good purposes, and has helped people, appears to have lost its way. It is only right that we help it to get right back on track to help the people it was set up to support."

Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead and chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, confirmed in parliament that his committee would be starting an urgent inquiry into Motability and would apply for Mann, MP for Bassetlaw, to be co-opted onto the committee "to pursue the issue".

Other MPs speaking in the debate about Motability criticised the charity and the company, with Mann saying the chief executive’s salary and the level of reserves at the company were "grotesque".

Margaret Greenwood, the Labour MP for Wirral West, said the revelations about Motability Operations Group "have shocked people around the country".

A spokeswoman for Motability said: "Founded in 1977, Motability has always embraced public accountability and transparency, so we warmly welcome an NAO review and any wider scrutiny from parliament, as we did when the Charity Commission undertook a full review of the scheme last year.

"However, in the course of the short parliamentary debate earlier today, a significant number of incorrect statements were made about the Motability scheme. We will be writing to the secretary of state, and others who participated in the debate, refuting every single inaccuracy."

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