The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK’s public spending watchdog, has accused Work and Pensions secretary Esther McVey of misleading MPs about its concerns around the controversial Universal Credit roll-out.
NAO chief Sir Amyas Morse criticised the cabinet minister in an open letter, seen exclusively by The Times newspaper, complaining over a number of inaccuracies in her presentation to parliament on its critical report of the roll-out.
Amyas said the minister’s response to the watchdog’s critical report of the rollout was “incorrect”, and accused the Cabinet minister of misrepresenting his report, before branding her behaviour “odd” amid suggestions she had refused to meet with him.
Amyas wrote that her statement claiming Universal Credit is working “has not been proven.”
Significant black mark for Esther McVey, work and pensions sec
Accused in a letter from Sir Amyas Morse, the Auditor General, of lying
Her statements to MPs about universal credit were “not correct”. She has refused to see him. Her assertions “not proven” pic.twitter.com/ezgd5r8a9m
— Sam Coates Times (@SamCoatesTimes) July 4, 2018
He said the minister’s claim that the NAO was concerned the benefit is currently “rolling out too slowly” and needs to “continue at a faster rate” is also inaccurate. In the letter Amyas wrote: “What we do know from the department’s surveys is that although 83 per cent of claimants responding said they were satisfied with the departments’ customer service, 40 per cent of them said they were experiencing financial difficulties, and 25 per cent said they couldn’t make an online claim.”
The report from the NAO, published in June, found that the roll-out has not “delivered value for money and it is uncertain if it ever will.”