William Eichler 05 July 2018

Work and pensions secretary apologises for ‘misleading’ Universal Credit claims

Work and pensions secretary apologises for ‘misleading’ Universal Credit claims image

The work and pensions secretary Esther McVey has been forced to apologise for making misleading statements about the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Ms McVey told MPs on Monday that the National Audit Office (NAO), the Government’s spending watchdog, had said that the benefit was progressing too slowly and should be rolled out faster.

She also claimed that a recent report from the NAO criticising the welfare reform ‘did not take into account the impact of our recent changes.’

However, in an open letter published by the Guardian yesterday, NAO head Amyas Morse said the work and pensions secretary’s claims were not correct.

‘It is odd that by Friday 15 June you felt able to say that the NAO “did not take into account the impact of our recent changes”. You reiterated these statements on 2 July, but we have seen no evidence of such impacts or fresh information,’ wrote Auditor General Morse.

‘I’m afraid your statement on 2 July that the NAO was concerned universal credit is currently “rolling but too slowly” and needs to “continue at a faster rate” is also not correct.

‘While we recognise regrettable early delays to Universal Credit, my recommendation made clearly on page 11 of the report is that the department must now ensure it is ready before it starts to transfer people over from previous benefits.’

In response, Ms McVey apologised for ‘inadvertently misleading’ Parliament.

‘Whilst speaking in Parliament, in answer to questions on the National Audit Office (NAO) report into Universal Credit, I mistakenly said that the NAO had asked for the rollout of Universal Credit to continue at a faster rate and to be speeded up,’ she told the House.

‘In fact the NAO did not say that Mr Speaker, and I want to apologise to you and the House for inadvertently misleading you. What I had meant to say was that the NAO had said that there was “no practical alternative to continuing with Universal Credit”.’

Mr Morse’s open letter also emphasised that the Auditor General had written to the secretary of state as early as 27 June to discuss previous comments made by Ms McVey regarding the NAO’s report. Despite this, he was unable to see her.

Protecting art in a crisis image

Protecting art in a crisis

Tiffany Cloynes and Clare Hardy outline how local authorities can play an important part in enabling arts and culture to flourish in their areas.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Service Improvement Manager (Commercial)

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£29,000 - £39,200 per annum
To increase income generation for the libraries service by enabling the delivery of the commercial strategy through providing support for... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Area Hub Manager

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£36,600 - £ 49,600 per annum
You will be at the forefront of a team delivering an integrated service focusing on... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recuriter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Health and Safety Support Assistant

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£23,167-£33,554
Looking for a motivated individual to join our Health and Safety Team at Richmond and Wandsworth Borough Councils Shared Staffing Arrangement (SSA). London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Highways and Traffic Management Group Manager

Plymouth City Council
£43,662 – £48,497
Are you looking for an exciting opportunity to lead a high performing, friendly and dynamic team Highways Team? Plymouth, Devon
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Senior Practitioner - DBIT Over 10's Team

Essex County Council
£39168.0 - £47405.0 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
D-BIT is a secondary team working in partnership with front line children's services, devising a robust and structured connecting /reunification plans. England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue