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CAS undertakes biggest review in its history

This news post is almost 8 years old

​Umbrella body undertakes root-and-branch review of its governance

The biggest shakeup in the history of Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is underway after UK government ministers forced the body to undertake a root-and-branch review of its governance.

Management consultant Deloitte has been appointed to undertake the review, led by Dr Jay Bevington, and will report back with recommendations sometime this summer.

It comes after CAS was rocked by a series of high-profile departures at executive level.

Two chief executives have left, as well as its head of finance.

Chief executive Margaret Lynch was sacked in February for gross misconduct six months after she was first suspended from her role, pending an investigation into her expenses and use of the company credit card.

Her appeal was concluded earlier this month with the sacking upheld.

CAS is the umbrella body for the 61 member bureaux that provide advice services to over 300,000 people every year.

Its network offers support for the public particularly around welfare and is one of the most recognisable charities north of the border.

The UK government is CAS’s core funder: £2.9 million a year is handed over for “unrestricted” purposes, while £4.5m is given to deliver consumer advice and advocacy.

However, CAS has been in chaos since Lynch was fired, with ministers saying they would withhold funding until it undertook an independent review.

The aim of our review is to ensure that our governance model allows CAS to respond to the changing needs of society

In a letter to CAS board chair Dominic Notarangelo, senior civil servant Caroline Normand wrote: “Following the recent dismissal of the CAS chief executive, and the recent departure of the CAS finance director, the department has considered whether CAS currently has the correct governance environment to support propriety and proper use of public funds.

“In particular we have concerns that the current constitution of the board and its relationship with the executive functions are a barrier to effective scrutiny and oversight of the funding provided to CAS.”

The Deloitte review of the organisation will see a “detailed and independent” assessment of CAS’s decision making and governance structures.

A hunt for a new chief executive to replace Lynch will run parallel to the review.

Commenting on the appointment, CAS trustee and sponsor of the governance review, Jon Turner, said: “We are delighted to appoint such a high calibre team to carry out this critical piece of work for CAS.

“The aim of our governance review is to ensure that our governance model allows CAS and the member bureaux to respond to the changing needs of society, and ensures that CAS can continue to provide the best possible service while ensuring good value for taxpayers money.

Jay Bevington, Deloitte UK board advisory practice lead, said: “Following a competitive tendering process, Deloitte is delighted to have been appointed to undertake the independent governance review at CAS.

“We look forward to working with the team and meeting wider stakeholders over the course of the review."