Crisis-hit Citizens Advice Scotland faces review

Chief executive Margaret Lynch was sacked in February for gross misconduct. Picture: TSPL
Chief executive Margaret Lynch was sacked in February for gross misconduct. Picture: TSPL
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Citizens Advice Scotland has announced it has appointed Deloitte to conduct an “assessment review” of its governance arrangements, in the wake of the departure of members of its board amid questions over expenses and its finances.

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.

Auditors examined allegations made by a whistleblower, resulting in her dismissal. Her appeal was concluded last week. The Deloitte review of the organisation, which is expected to be completed in the summer, 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.

Polly Tolley, head of communications for Citizens Advice Scotland, which represents 61 member Citizen Advice Bureaux and works for consumer advocacy, insisted that review was standard and was carried out once every five years.

“They will be looking at the strategic, management and leadership of the organisation,” she said. “The review was due anyway, but the other things that are driving it are the changes that will be coming as a result of the recent developments.”

She said the organisation could not rule out a further personnel shake up at the top of the organisation.

“It is not something that has been defined as part of the scope of the review, but we do not know yet what the outcome of the process is likely to be,” she added.

Finance chief Jon Dye also quit Citizens Advice Scotland in February. He is not suspected of any wrongdoing. Donna Holligan was appointed as head of finance last month.

Ms Tolley added: “We would hope that by the end of the summer, the review will be complete and we will have a new chief executive, if not in post, having been 
appointed.”

It emerged in March that the UK Government is to hold back six months of funding earmarked for Citizens Advice Scotland.

CAS Trustee and sponsor of the governance review, Jon Turner said: “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 are delighted to have been appointed to undertake the independent governance review at CAS.”