The public spending watchdog has launched an investigation into claims of fraud by a company paid to find jobs for disabled people.
Only last week, MPs on the Commons public accounts committee quizzed Robert Devereux, permanent secretary in the Department for Work and Pensions, about the way his civil servants had dealt with the allegations against Seetec.
Now, as a result of that evidence session, the National Audit Office (NAO) has decided to investigate the claims, which were first made by two whistleblowers to Disability News Service last year.
They claim Seetec artificially inflated the number of jobs it said it was finding for disabled people through the specialist Work Choice jobs programme.
But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) completed its investigation into the claims and cleared Seetec of fraud without interviewing either of the whistleblowers.
Margaret Hodge, who chairs the public accounts committee, told Devereux last week that that there were “definitely issues with Seetec”, and pointed to evidence from a third whistleblower who has raised concerns – also investigated by the NAO – about the company’s performance on the mainstream Work Programme.
Now the NAO plans to meet Perveen Sud to discuss the issues that she and the other Work Choice whistleblower have raised.
Sud said: “It is very encouraging that the NAO has made a decision to investigate such serious matters.
“This is a very important step forward as Margaret Hodge… clearly identified that there are very serious issues with Seetec.”
A spokeswoman for the NAO said: “It is a matter of private correspondence and we can’t really say anything else.”
24 July 2014