Monitoring the Performance of the Department for Work and Pensions in 2012-13 - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

1  Introduction

In this report our conclusions are set out in bold type and our recommendations, to which the Government is required to respond, are set out in bold italic type.

1. It is our normal practice to examine each year's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Annual Report and Accounts (ARA). Our scrutiny usually includes taking oral evidence from the Secretary of State and senior DWP officials.

2. The 2012-13 ARA was due to be published in June. However, publication was delayed due to prolonged negotiations between the Department and the National Audit Office on the treatment of Universal Credit IT expenditure in the Accounts and the length of time it took to reach agreement on the level of the necessary write-off. The ARA was eventually published on 10 December 2013.[1]

3. As a result, we had to postpone our planned oral evidence session, first from September to November 2013, and then to 9 December, to accommodate the Secretary of State's request that we await publication of the ARA before he appeared before us.[2] With good reason, Universal Credit dominated this oral evidence session and the Secretary of State agreed to appear before us again, on 3 February 2014, to discuss other issues arising from the ARA (although in the event Universal Credit issues were also covered at the second session, to take account of further developments).[3]

4. We plan to address Universal Credit implementation in a separate report. In this report, we highlight some of the key expenditure issues arising from the ARA. We have also used this opportunity to draw together our findings from a number of other ministerial oral evidence sessions which took place in 2013 on major policy developments including: implementation of Personal Independence Payments; pension reform; and child maintenance reform.

5. Although our evidence sessions with the Secretary of State on the ARA were subject to regrettable delays, we are grateful to DWP Ministers and officials for their general willingness to make themselves available to give oral evidence to us.

1   DWP, Annual Report & Accounts 2012-13, December 2013, HC 20 Back

2   Oral evidence taken on 9 December 2013 from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, HC 867 Back

3   Oral evidence taken on 3 February 2014 from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, HC 867 Back

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Prepared 18 March 2014