The Department for Work and Pensions has requested another legal hearing in its attempt to stop four ageing reports on the Universal Credit programme being published.
The DWP’s formal application to the Upper Tribunal shows that Whitehall officials and work and pensions ministers, Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud, are prepared to sink more public money into fighting a judge’s ruling in March 2014 that the DWP publish the four reports.
It appears the DWP does not want the reports published on a point of principle: the department does not publish any reports on any of its major IT-based change programmes.
Another reason officials and ministers have for keeping the reports confidential is that they would establish what officials knew of Universal Credit programme’s serious problems in 2012 when departmental press releases were saying the scheme was on time and within budget.
The reports could show, without ambiguity, that the DWP misled Parliament in 2012 and 2013 by saying the UC programme was progressing successfully when officials knew this was not the case.
So far the DWP’s lawyers have lost every stage of their appeals to stop disclosure of the reports. One judge noted the apparent contradiction between what’s in the hidden reports and optimistic press releases issued by the department about the UC programme.
Read the full story and a copy of the DWP’s appeal application on the ukcampaign4change website