Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of misleading parliament on universal credit.
It has emerged that the Department of Work and Pensions could write off up to £161m spent on IT systems for the welfare changes more than four times what the minister said would be wasted, says the Guardian.
The welfare minister is facing further embarrassing disclosures from PwC accountants who found that the universal credit system has had only a small ministerial oversight. It has been found that in one instance a civil servant's PA was allowed to sign off on contracts.
These disclosures have come to light at a public accounts committee meeting on Wednesday when officials from the department were closely questioned by MPs.
Whilst the National Audit Office report that was released last week has been labelled “damning” however an internal study sent recently by PwC to the committee's chair Margaret Hodge is said to be even worse. “I think it's one of the worst I have seen in my time here … as I read it felt like it was an out-of-control project,” she said.
Hodge accused the DWP of “sitting on” the PwC assessment for six months, and claimed it was a “damning indictment … PwC basically damns your control system.”
Liam Byrne, Duncan Smith's shadow minister, said: “Parliament's watchdog has blown apart yet another cover-up by Iain Duncan Smith who it seems has tried to hide a write-off of over £100m on his disaster-hit universal credit project.
“We're now told there was no ministerial accountability and financial control was so weak that secretaries were signing huge purchase orders. Mr Duncan Smith must now publish the damning report by his auditors PwC. We must get to the truth ministers are trying to hide.”
Robert Devereux, the DWP's permanent secretary told the committee that whilst the programme had been poor value for money, he still believe it could be delivered by the governments 2017 deadline.
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