Union reacts to Esther McVey apology in parliament on Universal Credit

04 Jul 2018

PCS reiterated its call for the roll out of Universal Credit to be halted following the minister's apology.

Esther McVey was forced into a humilating climb down today when she apologised for misleading parliament over the controversial issue of Universal Credit. 

The Work and Pensions Secretary said she had "inadvertently misled" the Commons by claiming that the National Audit Office (NAO) had called for the roll-out of the Universal Credit benefit to be accelerated.

But she defended her claim that a highly critical NAO report had failed to take into account recent changes made to the flagship benefit.

In an unusal move the auditor general of the National Audit Office (NAO) Sir Amyas Morse sent an open letter to Ms McVey saying that elements of her statement to Parliament on the report were incorrect and unproven.

He said it was "odd" that she had told MPs that the NAO report did not take into account the impact of recent changes to the administration of the welfare benefit, when it had in fact been "fully agreed" by senior officials at the Department for Work and Pensions only days earlier.

Reacting to the apology by Esther McVey on misleading parliament, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The apology from the minister will do nothing to convince those using Universal Credit or our members who administer it, that the scheme works.

“The concerns our union had about UC were confirmed by the original NAO report.

“The fact that its Auditor General has felt the need to make a public statement that the minister’s claims that Universal Credit is working, are not “proven” is a damning indictment.

“The roll out of Universal Credit is having a shocking impact on claimants as well as staff delivering the programme.

“Our members want to work in a humane social security system which helps claimants get the support they need. All the evidence shows Universal Credit will not achieve that and that’s why the government must cease its roll out.”

To read more about the union's view of Universal Credit, please click here.

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