The DWP has been condemned by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee for keeping a report into ‘alarming’ problems with universal credit (UC) secret for 18 months.
Frank Field, chair of the committee, has written to the secretary of state for work and pensions, Amber Rudd, criticising the delay and asking for an explanation.
The report into problems experienced by claimant being moved from tax credits to UC was dated November 2017, but it was not published by the government until this month.
Field describes this as an “excessively long delay”.
He points out that the report was withheld throughout a period when MPs were scrutinising the workings of UC and when the government decided to accelerate the full service roll-out of the benefit.
It was also kept back whilst the government was trying to push through legislation on the managed migration of claimants on ESA and other legacy benefits onto UC.
Field has asked Rudd to answer a number of questions about the delay in publication, including:
Might you please explain why there was a delay of eighteen months between the UCTC report being finalised and its publication?
Please will you confirm when Ministers in each Department first saw the report?
Might you also please provide copies of any briefing provided to Ministers on the report’s content?
Did the Social Security Advisory Committee have access to this report when it was carrying out its consultation on “managed migration”?
Might you also please tell us what actions DWP and HMRC took immediately on seeing the report, aside from deciding to delay publication?