Boss of Mota­bil­ity firm to step down in row over £2.2m bonus

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Si­mon Mur­phy Pa­trick But­ler

The boss of the busi­ness that leases cars to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties on be­half of the Mota­bil­ity char­ity is step­ping down af­ter it emerged he is set to re­ceive a £2.2m bonus on top of his seven-fig­ure salary.

Mike Betts, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions, came un­der fire in May af­ter MPs called his an­nual £1.7m pay pack­age “to­tally un­ac­cept­able”.

A re­port by the gov­ern­ment spend­ing watch­dog, the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice (NAO), pub­lished yesterday says as well as his “gen­er­ous” re­mu­ner­a­tion, Betts is in line for a pre­vi­ously undis­closed per­for­mance bonus worth about £2.2m.

Fol­low­ing the re­port, Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions an­nounced that Betts would stand down from his po­si­tion by May 2020, while the group’s chair­man, Neil Johnson, would re­tire in April 2019.

In a state­ment, Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions said: “Af­ter 16 years in the busi­ness, Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Betts and the board of Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions Group plc have agreed that, fol­low­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ac­tions agreed as an out­come of the NAO re­view, and work­ing to help the new chair­man set­tle in, a suit­able suc­ces­sor will be found, and Mike will step down from the board, no later than May 2020.

“The board is clear that rec­om­men­da­tions made by the NAO will ben­e­fit from Mr Betts’ ex­pe­ri­ence and skills to see them through.”

The Mota­bil­ity scheme en­ables dis­abled peo­ple to lease adapted cars us­ing their en­hanced mo­bil­ity dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits – ei­ther dis­abil­ity liv­ing al­lowance or its suc­ces­sor, the per­sonal in­de­pen­dence pay­ment. It cur­rently helps about 614,000 peo­ple, many of whom would other­wise strug­gle to af­ford a ve­hi­cle.

The NAO is crit­i­cal of the per­for­mance plan put in place for Betts and his fel­low di­rec­tors in 2008, say­ing that the tar­gets meant to in­cen­tivise “ex­cel­lent per­for­mance” were set at lev­els be­low what the com­pany was achiev­ing when the scheme was in­tro­duced.

The tar­gets were “eas­ily ex­ceeded” and in the first seven years of the plan, five ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors re­ceived “gen­er­ous” re­mu­ner­a­tion of £15.3m in to­tal, a near four­fold in­crease for what the NAO sug­gests was un­ex­cep­tional per­for­mance.

“Mota­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions’ man­age­ment has per­formed well since 2002. How­ever, we do think there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween turn­ing an un­der­per­form­ing busi­ness around and car­ry­ing out a se­ries of im­por­tant but not nec­es­sar­ily ex­cep­tional tasks to keep it on a road to a suc­cess­ful op­er­a­tion,” it con­cludes.

Al­though the 2008 scheme ended in 2015 and a new scheme will cut di­rec­tors’ re­mu­ner­a­tion – Betts’ pack­age is likely to shrink from £1.7m to £1.4m in 2019-20 – the NAO says it will still be sub­stan­tially more gen­er­ous than those for com­pa­ra­ble pub­lic sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions that com­pete with the pri­vate sec­tor for ex­ec­u­tive tal­ent, such as BBC Stu­dios and Net­work Rail.

Al­though Mota­bil­ity does not di­rectly re­ceive pub­lic fund­ing, crit­ics point out that it re­ceives about half of its an­nual £4bn in­come from dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits redi­rected to it by the Depart­ment for Work and Pen­sions (DWP) on be­half of claimants. It also re­ceives £888m worth of tax breaks that no other firm is en­ti­tled to, and is in ef­fect a mo­nop­oly.

The com­pany has op­er­ated in a pro­tected en­vi­ron­ment, the NAO says.

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