Work and Pensions Secretary Ester McVey was forced to go to the House of Commons yesterday and issue a grovelling apology to MPs after misleading them over Universal Credit.
The boss of the National Audit Office, Whitehall’s spending watchdog, blasted McVey in a scathing letter which was made public Wednesday morning. It is the first time the NAO has made correspondence with a minister public.
The shambolic system, the brainchild of Iain Duncan Smith, has seen thousands suffer delays in payments and many MPs have called for the system to be halted. McVey has claimed on Monday that the NAO had called for Universal Credit to be rolled out even faster and claimed that a recent report did not include the most up-to-date information on the scheme.
McVey told MPs on Wednesday that her statement had been made “mistakenly” and she had rather meant to say that the NAO report had found “no practical alternative” to Universal Credit, which combines six existing benefits into a single payment.
Labour is calling on McVey to resign for a clear breach of the Ministerial Code. Theresa May, who can ill afford to lose another cabinet member, has given the embattled DWP Secretary her full support.