Daily Mail

Fury at ‘se­cret’ £2m bonus for boss of dis­abled cars firm

- By Si­mon Walters London · Tower Bridge · Theresa May · Arbeidersparty · Frank Field · Barclays · The Royal Bank of Scotland · HSBC Holdings · Esther McVey · Amber Rudd

A CON­TRO­VER­SIAL com­pany pro­vid­ing tax­payer-funded cars for the dis­abled is fac­ing a new row over the al­leged cover-up of a £2 mil­lion bonus for its boss.

The se­cret pay­out is said to have been promised to Mike Betts, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions, which runs a char­i­ta­ble scheme that sup­plies ve­hi­cles to wheel­chair users and oth­ers in re­turn for part of their ben­e­fits.

Mr Betts, who lives in a £5 mil­lion river­side apart­ment over­look­ing Lon­don’s Tower Bridge, earns £1.7 mil­lion a year – 11 times more than Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

But in a dra­matic new de­vel­op­ment, the Mail has been told Mr Betts, 56, is in line for an ad­di­tional ‘loy­alty’ bo­nanza of £2 mil­lion – more than dou­bling his al­ready bloated an­nual tak­ings.

In­sid­ers say it was agreed five years ago, but has not come to light un­til now. It is thought Mr Betts is en­ti­tled to the vast sum – which is not re­lated to his pen­sion – in the ‘near fu­ture’.

Mota­bil­ity de­clined to com­ment last night but has de­nied con­ceal­ing

the full ex­tent of ex­ec­u­tive pay. The rev­e­la­tion comes af­ter the Mail ex­posed a scan­dal at the heart of the Mota­bil­ity char­ity, which was set up in 1977 to help dis­abled peo­ple get around by leas­ing a car, scooter or pow­ered wheel­chair.

In Fe­bru­ary, this news­pa­per re­vealed how Mota­bil­ity, which gets all its money in­di­rectly from the pub­lic purse, is hoard­ing £2.4 bil­lion of pub­lic funds – enough to pay for seven new hospi­tals or 30 new schools.

The then work and pen­sions sec­re­tary, Es­ther McVey, or­dered three in­quiries as a re­sult of the Mail’s rev­e­la­tions, in­clud­ing one by the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice (NAO).

Last night for­mer Labour min­is­ter Frank Field, chair­man of the Com­mons work and pen­sions se­lect com­mit­tee which also in­ves­ti­gated Mota­bil­ity, ex­pressed anger over the new rev­e­la­tions.

‘The idea that Mr Betts de­serves a £2 mil­lion bonus as well as £1.7 mil­lion a year de­fies be­lief and raises fur­ther se­ri­ous ques­tions about how Mota­bil­ity is run,’ he said. ‘If this in­for­ma­tion has been with­held from MPs, some­one is for the high jump. I am re­fer­ring this to the NAO.’

Mr Betts re­ceived a pub­lic maul­ing when he ap­peared be­fore Mr Field’s com­mit­tee nine months ago. MPs branded his salary – which has in­creased by nearly 80 per cent in nine years – as ‘grotesque’.

Mr Field lam­basted him over the ‘large, large, large amount of money go­ing into your pocket’, adding: ‘It is an af­front to the dis­abled – cars for the dis­abled is bread and but­ter stuff. It just needs in­tel­li­gent book-keep­ing.’

Cru­cially, there was no men­tion of a £2 mil­lion bonus at the time.

It is be­lieved that fig­ure is the true value of ex­tra cash set aside by Mota­bil­ity for Mr Betts in what it de­scribes as a ‘de­ferred bonus’. In­sid­ers say that in re­al­ity it is a ‘loy­alty’ pay­ment to re­ward him for stay­ing with the firm.

A ‘de­ferred bonus’ is re­ferred to in Mota­bil­ity ac­counts – but not val­ued any­where near as high as £2 mil­lion. The com­pany says its £ 2.4 bil­lion ‘re­serves’ are needed to guard against busi­ness risks, such as changes in the value of the pound and car prices.

But MPs dis­puted claims that its board­room pay was on a par with bosses of FTSE 250 com­pa­nies, ar­gu­ing its monopoly of gov­ern­ment money for dis­abled driv­ers made it a risk-free en­ter­prise.

In re­sponse to the Mail’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Mota­bil­ity re­cently found a spare £500 mil­lion for dis­abled driv­ers.

A source close to Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said: ‘It is not right for ob­scene salaries to be paid us­ing money made on the back of disability ben­e­fits.’

The source said Miss Rudd was seek­ing an urgent meet­ing with Mota­bil­ity chair­man Lord Ster­ling.

The scheme was set up to help dis­abled peo­ple get around, and sup­plies more than 600,000 ve­hi­cles.

Its cus­tomers’ £58-a-week mo­bil­ity ben­e­fits are paid di­rectly to the com­pany, in re­turn for a new ve­hi­cle.

Mota­bil­ity gets £2 bil­lion a year in dis­abled ben­e­fits and in­come from the sec­ond-hand car mar­ket when ve­hi­cles are sold af­ter three years. It also re­ceives £750 mil­lion-a-year tax relief which stops pri­vate com­pe­ti­tion. The firm is owned by Bar­clays, Lloyds, RBS and HSBC and bor­rows from them to buy new cars for its fleet.

A Mota­bil­ity spokesman said ‘full de­tails’ of Mr Betts’ pay had been given to Mr Field’s com­mit­tee, adding: ‘ Our re­port­ing of all ex­ec­u­tive re­mu­ner­a­tion is fully in line with the Com­pa­nies Act.’

The NAO’s re­port into Mota­bil­ity is due to be pub­lished on Fri­day.

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