General Sir Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office – NAO, has taken the highly unusual step of writing an open letter to the Work and Pensions Secretary, Esther McVey to “clarify the facts,” following her statement to parliament on the contents of their report.
Sir Amyas accused Ms McVey of misrepresenting the NAO’s report and called her behaviour “odd” and pointed out that despite his best efforts she has refused to meet him.
As I pointed out at the time, McVey’s claims were outright lies compared to what was written in the highly critical report. After all I like others who commented can read the report for ourselves.
If you want a full breakdown of the National Audit Office report on the Universal Credit roll-out please click here.
National Audit Office “reluctantly” writes to Esther McVey complaining of inaccuracies in her statements on universal credit. Says report was fully agreed with DWP. pic.twitter.com/XnEkdR3i2n
— Ashley Cowburn (@ashcowburn) July 4, 2018
He was damning in his criticism of McVey’s comments that Universal Credit is working, stating that this “has not been proven”.
What’s more odd is, as he had pointed out last week following her statement to the commons;
“Our report was fully agreed with senior officials in your department. It is based in the most accurate and up-to-date information from your department.”
The question on everyone’s mind is, why blatantly lie if your own department agreed with the report? Add in the fact that people have eyes and can read the report and its findings for themselves.
Another point the NAO chief picked up on was her false claim that; “The report says that it needs to continue to go forward and it needs to continue at a faster rate.”
This could not be further from the truth. The report accepts that whilst it’s too late to go back, the roll-out should not continue until The Department for Work and Pensions – DWP “is ready before it starts to transfer people over from previous benefits.”
Can Esther McVey Hold On?
Now either Esther McVey didn’t research the report and talk to her staff, which shows she isn’t carrying out her job correctly or, she knowingly lied to parliament on the 2nd of July.
Sir Amyas Morse’s letter goes as far as saying that Esther McVey did in-fact wilfully mislead parliament.
In theory she should be called to parliament to explain herself as, if found to be guilty of lying, she has breached the Ministerial Code and should be sacked. This would be a second loss in this manner to Theresa May as she already lost close ally and friend Damien Green when he was found to have misled parliament on his knowledge of the Metropolitan Police investigation into him.
Now, the responsibility on whether McVey holds onto her job rests firmly with The Prime Minister.
At a time when she can ill afford yet another high-profile cabinet loss, will May take any action at all?
For the sake of people like me who rely on Universal Credit to work properly I hope so.