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.

SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker - FTC - DBIT

Essex County Council
£30906.0 - £42254.0 per annum + + Free Parking & Benefits Package
A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a Social Workers to join the South D-BIT Team based Ely House covering the South Quadrant area on a Fixed Term Contract basis, for a period of 18 months. England, Essex, Basildon
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Senior Practitioner - Family Support & Protection Team

Essex County Council
Up to £237 per day + Umbrella
To hold and sustain a caseload consisting mainly of the most sensitive, "complex and difficult" cases to which the post holder is able to bring to bear the highest standards of professional ability and a considerable depth of knowledge in relevant legisla England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Qualified Social Worker - Children in Care Specialist Team

Essex County Council
Up to £207 per day + Umbrella
The role includes managing a defined caseload, the Social Worker is responsible for working effectively with children, young people and families/carers to achieve positive change and improved outcomes. England, Essex, Harlow
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Associate Director – Finance & Commercial

Slough Borough Council
£80,912 to £94,371
As our Associate Director – Finance & Commercial and Deputy 151 Officer you will lead a team of approximately 57 people within... Slough, Berkshire
Recuriter: Slough Borough Council

Channel Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£34,728 - £36,922 per annum
You will need to possess demonstrable knowledge and understanding of the UK Government Counter... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan 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