Irvine under fire for PTO performance

The PAC said Lord Irvine’s department had failed to respond to the office’s shortcomings identified in a previous report last year.

It said in respect of sums held in court, the executive government agency could ‘neither readily identify all cases of unclaimed balances or reconcile them to the total amount held, nor offer an adequate search facility for use by potential claimants of those funds’.

The report said the department should have shown greater interest in providing a proper range of professional skills in the agency and ensured that the resources for information technology were sufficient.

‘It should also have ensured that this committee?s key concerns such as the need to collect and review receivers accounts promptly, were reflected in the agencies performance targets,’ the report continued.

PAC chairman David Davies said he found it ‘very surprising’ that the former chief executive of the PTO got her full performance bonus despite the agency’s failings and said this settlement was ‘too generous’.

Mr Davies said the lord chancellor’s departmental approach to the PTO was ‘clearly too hands off’ in the view of its ‘conspicuous’ failings.

In November last year, the government proposed the PTO be scrapped and its functions be handled by accountants, solicitors and organisations in the voluntary, private and public sectors.

The PTO is the executive agency of the UK government and part of the Lord Chancellor’s Department. It’s charged with looking after the private assets and financial affairs of members of the public, who are unable to do so because of mental incapacity.


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