Esther McVey misled MPs over Universal Credit, watchdog says

From The Guardian: Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, has been forced to apologise to parliament after making misleading statements about the government’s faltering welfare changes.

The MP for Tatton’s statement followed the release of a damning letter from Sir Amyas Morse, who told the minister she had misinterpreted a report by the National Audit Office on Universal Credit to make it look as if the new welfare system was working well.

McVey should not have claimed universal credit was being rolled out too slowly when the NAO had said the DWP should ensure it was working properly before transferring any more people on to it from previous benefits, she was told.

She should not have said universal credit was working when the report said this was not proven, Morse said. She should not have claimed that the report had not taken into account recent improvements in welfare, when it was signed off days earlier by her department, he added.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Amber Rudd was sent targets for migrant removal, leak reveals

From the Guardian: Amber Rudd’s insistence that she knew nothing of Home Office targets for immigration removals risks unravelling following the leak of a secret internal document prepared for her and other senior ministers.

The six-page memo, passed to the Guardian, says the department has set “a target of achieving 12,800 enforced returns in 2017-18” and boasts that “we have exceeded our target of assisted returns”.

The document was prepared by Hugh Ind, the director general of the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement agency, in June last year and copied to Rudd and Brandon Lewis, the then immigration minister, as well as several senior civil servants and special advisers.

The leak will raise questions about Rudd’s public position on what she knew about the setting of targets for the enforced removal of migrants.

The issue has become particularly toxic because of coverage of the Windrush generation – many of whom have been made destitute, homeless and denied benefits and healthcare because of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” policy towards those it deems to be lacking appropriate documentation to be in the UK.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Andrew Neil lays into Tory MP over “outrageous smear” against Corbyn

From LabourList: Today Andrew Neil used Tory MP Steve Baker’s spot on the BBC’s Daily Politics to slam the claims of Conservative MPs that Jeremy Corbyn “sold British secrets” and “betrayed his country”.

Following the Sun‘s “Commie Corbyn” story, which claimed the Labour leader met with a communist spy in the 1980s and suggested he briefed them on British politics and matters of state security, defence secretary Gavin Williamson said Corbyn “cannot be trusted” and accused him of “betrayal of this country”.

Neil repeatedly asked Steve Baker, “do you think he has betrayed his country?”. Steve Baker repeatedly refused to answer the question.

Tory vice-chair Ben Bradley was forced to delete his tweet stating “Corbyn sold British secrets to communist spies” after the leader of the opposition threatened legal action. On Twitter security minister Ben Wallace compared Corbyn to Soviet spy Kim Philby.

“Your security minister has compared Mr Corbyn to Kim Philby. Kim Philby was a traitor – at the time if he’d been found guilty he would have been hanged! That’s an outrageous smear to say of the leader of the opposition,” said Neil.

He concluded: “The real scandal, Mr Baker, isn’t what Mr Corbyn has supposedly done or not done. It’s the outright lies and disinformation that your fellow Tories are spreading.”

[Read full article on LabourList…]

Damian Green sacked after ‘misleading statements’ on porn claims

From BBC News: Damian Green, one of Theresa May’s closest allies, has been sacked from the cabinet after an inquiry found he had breached the ministerial code.

He was “asked to quit” after he was found to have made “inaccurate and misleading” statements over what he knew about claims pornography was found on his office computer in 2008.

He also apologised for making writer Kate Maltby feel uncomfortable in 2015.

[Read full article on BBC News…]

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt admits false claims over mental health

From Channel 4 News: The Tory health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been forced to re-write parliamentary records after making a false claim about mental health.

Speaking on World Mental Health Day, he told MPs: “We’ve got 30,000 more people working in mental health today than we had when [Labour] left office.”

He repeated this again, saying: “We have 30,000 more professionals working in mental health than when my Government came into office.”

But when questioned by FactCheck, the Department for Health admitted that Mr Hunt’s figure includes all professionally qualified clinical NHS staff in England – not just those working in mental health.

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