MP Esther McVey not fit for office
Dear Sir, — The National Audit Office has stated that Esther McVey, the works and pensions secretary, misled Parliament on three separate points relating to a report by Whitehall’s independent spending watchdog.
Firstly, Mrs McVey claimed that the National Audit Office had called for the universal credit roll-out to be accelerated but in fact, the head of the National Audit Office, Sir Amyas Morse, had actually called for the reforms to be paused.
Sir Amyas, who has been head of the audit office for nine years, was for the first time forced to write a letter of reprimand to a Government minister.
Sir Amyas had to write to Mrs McVey because she would not agree to see him, despite his trying to arrange an appointment with her for more than a week.
The second falsehood perpetrated by Mrs McVey was her claim that the audit office’s report was not based on up-to-date information.
However, as Sir Amyas states in his letter, his report was signed off with senior officials in Mrs McVey’s department on 8th June. Yet she was claiming a week later that it was not up to date.
Thirdly, Sir Amyas criticised Mrs McVey for claiming that the audit office report showed that universal credit was working when in fact the report stated that her department “has not measured how many claimants are having difficulties ... 40% said they were experiencing financial difficulties, 20% were not paid in full on time and 25% said they couldn’t make an online claim”.
Mrs McVey likes to pretend that universal credit has been a success, but the evidence proves otherwise, as according to the Trussell Trust, when universal credit is rolled out, local food banks see a 30% upsurge in use. Furthermore, the audit office has reported that the cost to administer universal credit is over four times more expensive than the target cost, with the actual cost at £699 per case against a target of £173.
The ministerial code requires ministers must give accurate and truthful information to Parliament and any minister who knowingly fails to do so, must resign.
Mrs McVey was forced to attend Parliament on Wednesday to apologise, but she would only apologise on one of the three points, in respect of the speed of roll-out.
She was called back to Parliament the following day, Thursday, to clarify her apology, but she failed to give a fulsome apology.
Let us not forget that claimants of universal credit are effectively fined if they breach job centre rules, by having their benefit payments stopped for a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of three years.
Mrs McVey has similarly breached the rules and therefore should be similarly sanctioned by being told by the prime minister to resign immediately and thereby, lose the financial benefits attached to the role of a cabinet minister – a role Mrs McVey is clearly not fit to hold. — Yours faithfully,
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