The PCS union has asked for members to send messages of support to a whistleblower after the Department for Work and Pensions broke rules by dismissing him.
Perhaps we should all do the same?
Would that send an appropriate message?
Here’s the story:
The DWP dismissed Enrico La Rocca, an employee for more than 27 years, then working in Preston Carers’ Allowance unit, in May.
Mr La Rocca had highlighted serious concerns about the department’s handling of CA overpayments over a number of years.
His concerns were taken up by the National Audit Office (NAO), whose investigation resulted in a report revealing that the DWP’s own 2019 internal audit had found two-thirds of earnings-related CA overpayments over £2,500 could have been stopped earlier, if DWP officers had looked at all the data-matching alerts produced by its systems.
A subsequent Work and Pensions Select Committee report into these concerns said the DWP was “culpable” for the Carers Allowance overpayments due to “administrative failure”
The committee’s chair referred to “shocking ineptitude” in the handling of the overpayments.
The committee recommended that the department should write off the overpayments, rather than continue to prosecute claimants.
The DWP took little action to address these concerns, so Mr La Rocca sought to have them taken up as a whistleblowing complaint by the Civil Service Commission.
This was refused, due to a lack of a proper internal investigation by the DWP; the commission refused to consider the whistleblowing complaint until the department responded to the concerns internally.
Meanwhile, concerned by media reports of claimants having cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) despite the DWP’s failures to address these serious issues, Mr La Rocca contacted the Crown Prosecution Service to ask for disclosure of the NAO report to the court – in order to ensure a just decision could be made.
It was this – the effort to contact the CPS and request that the NAO report, already in the public domain, was shared with the court – that was used by DWP as justification for his dismissal.
As far as the PCS union is concerned, Mr La Rocca’s decision to contact the CPS was part of ongoing whistleblowing, addressing a clear and legitimate concern.
Therefore he should have been provided with whistleblower protection and not dismissed, according to the union.
PCS is supporting Mr La Rocca in challenging his dismissal, taking legal advice on his behalf to seek his reinstatement via an Employment Tribunal.
In its story, PCS has requested that any branches wishing to pass on messages of support to Mr La Rocca and his branch in opposing what the union’s members believe is an unfair and unwarranted dismissal can email either [email protected] or [email protected]
As a former Carers’ Allowance recipient who has just been contacted – nine months after I closed my claim – by the DWP, seeking details of my earnings during the period of my claim, I’m quite keen to send my own support to this man – who was obviously doing valuable work.
How about you?
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical
3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com
And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: