The administrators of a bus company that operated as a social enterprise have appointed CAPA to conduct audits on all sites it traded from.

BDO has appointed CAPA to undertake rates audits on HCT Group, which had provided transport and community services around the UK for more than 40 years, but fell into insolvency in 2022 due to a combination of economic factors and changing passenger behaviour.

The company had suffered a number of financial and operational challenges over an extended period.

These included reduced passenger numbers due to the pandemic, as well as operational and financial pressures as a result of a high demand for bus drivers and wage inflation, particularly in London, and rising fuel costs.

Although the management team had taken steps to restructure the group, close unprofitable entities and made attempts to transition the group to a sustainable financial position, the company had insufficient funds to continue trading beyond the short term.

HCT Group had sought to minimise the impact of its financial problems on staff and its London red bus operations were sold to Stagecoach in the summer, while its businesses in Jersey and Guernsey were sold to Tower Transit.

In Bristol, operations were also transferred to a new owner, and the handover of all these regional services safeguarded a number of jobs.

Eventually however, Martha Thompson, Neville Side and Mark Thornton of BDO were appointed as administrators in September.

Their instruction to CAPA means CAPA’s Audit team will conduct a forensic investigation of business rates paid out at 16 sites used by HCT Group, using bespoke software to identify instances of overpayments in the data.

Any overspend will be recovered on a no-win, no-fee basis.