Bosses of a charity that leases cars to disabled people on benefits were hauled over the coals by MPs yesterday for hushing up a secret £2.2million bonus handed to its chief executive.
Mike Betts and fellow executives at Motability were lambasted for their ‘eye-wateringly’ high pay packets during a special joint investigation by the work and pensions and Treasury select committees in Parliament yesterday.
They were being grilled over a report from the National Audit Office in December – sparked by a Daily Mail investigation into Motability last year – that found it had overcharged customers by £390million over ten years. It also exposed the hidden pot of cash for Mr Betts, which came on top of his £1.7million pay, after analysis of its books by forensic accountants. He resigned when the scandal emerged.
Mike Betts (pictured) and fellow executives at Motability were lambasted for their ‘eye-wateringly’ high pay packets during a special joint investigation by the work and pensions and Treasury select committees in Parliament yesterday
Motability leases adapted cars to wheelchair users and other disabled people who receive benefits. Frank Field MP, chairman of the work and pensions committee, asked: ‘Might you not be able to provide the service more cheaply so disabled people can actually have more money in their pockets? Is it right that you can cream off profits?’
Motability director Paul Atkinson replied: ‘I don’t see it in those terms.’
Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke accused bosses of the taxpayer-backed charity of being ‘disingenuous’ in failing to reveal Mr Betts’ bonus when the cross-party group asked about pay at a hearing last March. And Labour MP John Mann stormed: ‘You’re a monopoly, underpinned by taxpayers, and I’m asking a simple question: why were you hiding that amount of money?’ Motability Operations’ executive Neil Johnson replied: ‘There was no intention to cover up anything.’
Yesterday Sir Amyas Morse, the Auditor General, told MPs the car scheme had been a huge success for disabled people but a ‘basic review’ was now needed to ‘get a grip on pay’.