Tag Archives: statistics

Sunak is reported to statistics watchdog for misleading the public about poverty increase

Rishi Sunak: misleading on poverty.

Here’s another lie from the Party of Liars:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been reported to the UK’s statistics watchdog over Labour claims he misled the public by saying the number of people in poverty is falling – at a time when internationally recognised measures show it has risen by 1.5 million under Tory rule.

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson said the “cowardly” chancellor was corroding public trust by trying to cover up the truth on “appalling” inequalities which have seen the numbers of children in poverty rise to 4.2 million.

Boris Johnson has been repeatedly rapped over the knuckles by the watchdog over his claims that poverty has fallen under the Tories, with Office for Statistics Regulation chief Ed Humpherson issuing a formal warning to Downing Street only last month that the prime minister’s cherry-picking of statistical measures was getting in the way of public understanding of the problem.

Sunak will escape without any real punishment, no matter how severe his offence.

The fun is in finding out how ridiculous his excuse will be.

Source: Rishi Sunak facing probe over use of poverty statistics | The Independent

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Gove rebuked for fiddling the figures on post-Brexit trade

The UK Statistics Authority has delivered an official reprimand to Michael Gove and his Cabinet Office for faking the figures on post-Brexit trade.

The Road Haulage Association published the results of a survey in February, showing that the volume of exports to the EU fell by more than two-thirds (68 per cent) in January, immediately after the UK finally severed its membership of the European Union.

Gove’s Cabinet Office then pretended that the RHA was wrong, stating that “inbound and outbound flows (across all UK ports) were close to normal, at 95% outbound and 96% inbound, in spite of the impact of Covid lockdowns on trade.”

The UKSA’s reprimand pointed out that the Cabinet Office’s response contained “claims based on unpublished data, and as such these figures cannot be verified”.

Worse still, it referred only to “flows” of lorries, and not to the amount of freight they were carrying.

It is entirely possible that the number of lorries going out to the EU was almost as high from January 1 onwards as they had been before.

But the claim that exports had dropped by two-thirds is also likely to be true if most of those lorries were empty – and they were.

Gove has been caught trying to mislead the public over this important issue. By rights he should resign. But does anybody think he will?

Source: UK Statistics Authority rebukes Gove over Brexit figures | Brexit | The Guardian

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Coronavirus: the Tories have LIED about the daily death toll – INCREASING fears. Why?

Take a look at this headline:

Is it working? UK records 43 coronavirus deaths in past 24 hours compared to 87 yesterday

You can see it in situ by following the link at the bottom of the article. It was a Daily Mail headline on March 25.

It’s a lie, of course – but this time the Mail doesn’t seem to be to blame.

No, this time it’s the Tory government who seem to be at fault.

It wasn’t realistic for the government to claim that the number of deaths had halved, so early in the pandemic’s residence in the UK.

So the BBC’s Newsnight questioned it – and was told by the government that that it cannot add deaths to the total as they happen, because it has to obtain the permission of each family before it can do so.

This is not true.

There is no law – covering data protection or otherwise – requiring family members to give their permission before a death can be added to the total attributed to the coronavirus.

It’s just a number, you see; no personal details are being passed on.

The government had also changed the time at which the number of new deaths was reported, meaning there had been a shorter period between reports.

And according to Skwawkbox, it seems deaths at home, in care homes and in hospital A&E units have also been omitted.

Why indeed – in response to both questions.

Figures for the following day (March 26) showed an increase of 115 – more than on both the previous two days – showing that the number of fatalities is still increasing.

So the only logical reason for the Tories to lie is contradicted – the number of deaths per day clearly is not falling.

So if we have learnt anything, it is that we cannot trust the figures the Conservative government is providing; the true figure may be much higher than they have said.

So, far from allaying fears about the deadliness of the virus, Boris Johnson and his cronies have only increased them.

Source: Coronavirus UK: Daily death toll halves, rising by 43 to 465 | Daily Mail Online

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DWP to collect statistics on ‘food insecurity’ – but why should we believe the results?

Has anybody noticed how the Department for Work and Pensions contracts out the dirty work of benefit assessments to organisations that have proved untrustworthy – but can’t even be trusted to collect and release its own statistics in an appropriate way?

Congratulations to South Shields Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck for getting the DWP to agree to measure the number of people who don’t have enough to eat, as part of a national survey carried out every year. It will refer to people who either can’t afford to buy sufficient food or are worried about their ability to buy food in the future.

But will these figures see the light of day? The DWP doesn’t seem to have published any responses to “Freedom of Information” requests since March 2016.

And if it is being asked to release information that makes the government look bad – such as, for example, statistics showing the police had shared information on disabled people attending public protests – the DWP seems simply to refuse to answer.

We know people have been forced to steal in order to feed their families, due to kack-handed DWP benefits incompetence.

And famished children have been caught stealing from school lunchboxes in incidents we may link with DWP policies.

Does anyone really think the DWP will admit information that connects these events with government policies?


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NHS bosses ordered trusts: Lie to the public about scale of winter crisis – claim

[Image: Science Photo Library.]

It seems we have all been deceived, and the scale of the crisis facing emergency medicine may be greater than first thought.

Emails from NHS Improvement told Trusts to boost their treatment figures by including data from walk-in centres, in conflict with guidance issued by NHS England in 2015.

It means trusts’ performance since last October, when the first email was sent, may have been artificially inflated.

The UK Statistics Authority has demanded an explanation.

Crucially, This Writer wants to know who ordered the changes – and why.

NHS hospital trusts in England may have to recalculate A&E performance figures from last October onwards.

The UK Statistics Authority has told NHS England to explain changes to the recording of A&E data.

It says the changes – highlighted by BBC News – could have left people reaching “misleading conclusions”.

They raise questions over some trusts’ performance on the highest profile NHS performance target – that patients in A&E are seen within four hours.

The official target requires 95% of patients to be treated, assessed or discharged within four hours, a figure the NHS has failed to meet since July 2015.

A hospital trust’s performance figures include the main accident and emergency department (known as Type 1) and minor injuries or care centres (known as Type 3).

These centres tend to see and treat patients a lot more quickly than those needing emergency care.

Data in these clinics tends to pull up the overall performance of a trust. This is confirmed by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.

The BBC has seen emails sent by NHS Improvement, the body responsible for overseeing trusts, in October last year.

The implication is that including these centres would help improve overall performance.

This, and another email sent later in October by NHS Improvement, was seen by trusts as a request to add in data from walk-in centres not run by them and not on hospital grounds.

This is in direct conflict with clear guidance issued in November 2015 by NHS England, which says walk-in centre data can be included only if the trust has clinical responsibility for the service or if it co-located on the trust’s grounds.

Source: A&E stats may have to be recalculated


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Labour reports Boris Johnson to statistics watchdog over ‘misleading’ comments about Brexit

Boris Johnnson has not only stood by the controversial figure but now says it is too low [Image: Leon Neal, used by the Daily Mirror].

Misleading? It’s a downright lie.

Here’s the background, from the Daily Mirror:

Labour have reported Boris Johnson to the UK’s statistics watchdog, after he said the discredited claim that leaving the EU would mean Britain gets £350m a week extra to spend on the NHS was an under-estimate.

The Foreign Secretary claimed the official Vote Leave campaign could have used an even higher figure on their infamous red bus during the referendum campaign.

He said: “There was an error on the side of the [Vote Leave] bus. We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control.”

Mr Johnson claimed the UK’s gross contribution would increase to £438 million by the end of the proposed transition period in 2021.

Here‘s the letter from Keir Starmer to Sir David Norgrove, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority:

Foreign Secretary’s comments about the UK’s financial contribution to the EU

I am writing to seek clarification on comments made by the Foreign Secretary yesterday [15 January] about the UK’s financial contribution to the European Union (EU).

In an interview with The Guardian the Foreign Secretary said: “There was an error on the side of the [Vote Leave] bus. We grossly underestimated the sum over which we would be able to take back control.”

The newspaper reports that “Johnson argued that the UK’s EU contribution was already up to £362m per week for 2017-18 and would rise annually to £410m, £431m, and then to £438m by 2020-21 – ‘theoretically the last year of the transition period.’”

The £350m a week claim made by the Vote Leave campaign has been widely condemned as inaccurate and misleading. For example, in September of last year the Statistics Authority wrote to the Foreign Secretary saying, “it is a clear misuse of official statistics.” And yet, Mr Johnson has chosen to repeat this statement and expand on the claim even further. I do not believe this to be acceptable.

I would therefore be grateful if you could make a statement on the accuracy of the Foreign Secretary’s most recent comments.

This Writer can’t wait for the reply. Can you?


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Why did MPs fail to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats?

This seems a reprehensible – but all-too-typical – dereliction of duty by MPs on all sides of Parliament.

Labour’s shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams, is usually red-hot on this subject, and I wonder if she has been notified and asked to seek explanation, at least with regard to those members of her own party who – it seems – couldn’t be bothered to ask the obvious questions.

Nine MPs on a Commons committee are refusing to explain why they failed to ask the minister for disabled people about shocking figures that suggest attempted suicides among people claiming out-of-work disability benefits doubled between 2007 and 2014.

The work and pensions select committee was passed the figures by Disability News Service (DNS) a few days before Sarah Newton gave evidence last month.

But despite being promised that the figures had “informed the briefing” prepared for the MPs on the committee ahead of the minister’s evidence session – and Labour MP Neil Coyle telling DNS that he was “sure it will be raised” – no effort was made to ask Newton about them.

And this week, none of the nine committee members who attended the session – Labour’s Frank Field, who chairs the committee, Coyle (pictured), Ruth George and Stephen McCabe, Tory MPs Heidi Allen, Andrew Bowie, Alex Burghart and Chris Green, and SNP’s Chris Stephens – would explain why they failed to ask the minister about the figures.

Instead, they hid behind the committee’s media officer, who accused DNS of trying to “circumvent” her by asking the MPs individually why they failed to raise the issue with Newton.

Source: MPs refuse to explain failure to quiz minister on ESA suicide stats


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DWP ‘manipulated Access to Work figures to hide cuts and harassment’ – quelle surprise

Why is the DWP not under continual criticism for the way it collects and presents statistics?  The intention is always to put forward the best possible impression of the Department – and never to present the facts in a clear, usable way.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been accused of manipulating statistics in an attempt to hide the ongoing barriers, cuts and harassment experienced by disabled people seeking support from a key disability employment programme.

The claims followed the release of new figures which showed the number of disabled people approved every year for support from the Access to Work (AtW) programme had fallen by 15 per cent under seven years of Conservative rule.

The scheme has been repeatedly praised as an effective way of supporting disabled people in work and ensuring they keep their jobs, and provides funding for work-related support such as aids and equipment, communication support, travel to work, physical adaptations to a workplace, and hiring support workers.

Deaf and disabled campaigners cast grave doubt last night (Wednesday) on the figures and suggested DWP was attempting to camouflage continuing cuts to people’s support.

Although the figures show the number of people who had support packages approved in each year, they do not include those who continue to receive AtW support without the need for reassessment, or show how many people lost their support or had it cut after being reassessed.

This means it is impossible to know how many disabled people are currently receiving AtW compared with previous years, or how the average level of support packages have risen or fallen.

Ellen Clifford (pictured, right), Inclusion London’s campaigns and policy manager, said DWP’s document “takes creative use of statistics to a whole new level of unreality”.

She said the motivation for changing the way the statistics were collated could only be to disguise what was really happening “because they now provide a much less clear picture of how many people the scheme is benefiting… The manipulation of figures in this way suggests the DWP has something to hide”.

Source: DWP ‘manipulated Access to Work figures to hide cuts and harassment’


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We don’t know how many people were wrongly declared ‘fit for work’ – DWP figures are meaningless

Thousands of disabled people were wrongly found fit to work [Image: PA].

Here’s another example of how the Department for Work and Pensions distorts the facts.

This organisation is saying the number of cases brought to appeal was only a small proportion of the overall caseload – but we know that the DWP has measures in place to ensure that many wronged claimants are unable to get as far as making an appeal.

The DWP’s claims – about the number of successful appeals – are meaningless.

Has everybody forgotten about ‘mandatory reconsideration’ – the “delaying tactic” aimed at reducing the number of sick and disabled people claiming benefits?

Since October 2013, claimants of ESA and other benefits who want to dispute a decision made on their claim have had to ask DWP to reconsider the decision – a “mandatory reconsideration” (MR) – before they are allowed to lodge an appeal with the independent benefits tribunal system. Mandatory reconsideration is not restricted to those who are found ‘fit for work’, though, and claimants can use it to request re-classification from the Work-Related Activity Group into the Support Group, for example.

When it was introduced, DWP civil servants were overturning 40 per cent of ESA decisions. Figures published in June this year showed that this had fallen and only 11 per cent of those who appealed through the MR process – 10,000 people per month – were successful.

Campaigners said this showed the MR stage is simply delaying the benefits process, and pushing disabled people already at risk of poverty into greater hardship.

So we simply don’t know how many people were wrongly defined as fit for work by the DWP.

How many people are pushed into such hardship that they have to give up and accept a false decision that they should claim Jobseekers’ Allowance instead, even though they are not fit to work? We don’t know.

But this skews the appeal results, so the DWP’s claim – that the number of cases brought to appeal is just a small proportion of the overall caseload – is meaningless.

It’s just more nonsense doublespeak, like the claim that claimant suicides have nothing to do with the way they are treated by DWP staff.

Here’s how The Independent reported this story:

“Around 2,000 disabled people were wrongly judged to be fit to work by the DWP over the latest three month period, Department for Work and Pensions figures show.

“Most appeals against disability benefit fit-to-work decisions were successful in the period June 2016, where show 58 per cent of appeals were upheld.

“The number of appeals is also rising compared to the previous quarter, up from 3,400 to 3,600 – despite a falling overall caseload from 145,200 to 96,300.

“The DWP said the number of cases brought to appeal was only a small proportion of the overall caseload, while disability charities warned the numbers were a signal that the tests were not working.”

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No, Robert Peston, Osborne was WRONG to impose austerity. Stop distorting the facts!

151002importexport

The BBC’s Tory economics editor Robert Peston is clutching at straws again.

He’s trying to persuade us all that everything we thought we knew about the UK’s economy during the Coalition Parliament was wrong, and that growth was much stronger than we thought. He is being economical with the truth, it seems.

He writes: “The ONS … says that the economy grew 1.5% in the general election year of 2010, then 2% after austerity bit in 2011 – revised up by the ONS from 1.6% – and then 1.2% in 2012, when the eurozone’s economic crisis imposed maximum pain on us.

“The previous picture, of austerity reducing growth from 1.9% in 2010, to 1.6% in 2011, to 0.7% in 2012, has been magicked away by the official statisticians.

“And they have also revised up their estimate of growth for 2013 from 1.7% to 2.2%.

“If these statistics are more reliable than the last lot, a particular school of Keynesian economists may choose to re-examine their contention that only a fool or a liar would say there is a legitimate debate about whether George Osborne’s policies were good or bad for the recovery.”

One of that school of Keynesian economists has hit back – hard. According to Professor Simon Wren-Lewis, Mr Peston’s argument is “just nonsense: complete and utter nonsense.”

He responds: “This ‘particular school’ has never based their assessment on observing what is still the weakest UK recovery since anyone can remember and looking for something to blame. They based it on what macro theory and the great majority of empirical studies tell us would be the impact of the fiscal austerity that happened. At the conservative end of such assessments is the OBR, who calculate austerity reduced GDP growth by 1% in each of the financial years 2011 and 2012. Estimates of this kind are completely independent of data revisions for one period in one country. We might doubt such estimates if they implied that without austerity we would have had implausibly rapid growth, but for this recovery they do not.”

This means that it doesn’t matter how well the ONS or Mr Peston says the economy performed – the simple fact that George Osborne had imposed austerity on the UK (unnecessarily) means growth was restricted by at least one per cent in the years he mentions.

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to point out that the UK’s growth performance – even with these revisions – is still terrible because Peston has not taken population growth due to inward migration into account: “You really have to look at GDP per head to make comparative statements about this recovery.

As the ONS point out, this new data still shows that only in this year has GDP per head exceeded its pre-recession peak. Assuming recent data revisions have not changed this, average growth in GDP per head between 1955 and 2008 was about 2.25%. Any recovery from such a deep recession should have seen growth rates well in excess of this.

“Instead the revised data give us 1.1% growth in 2011, 0.5% in 2012, 1.5% in 2013. Only by 2014 had we got near the long term average growth rate. This is still an absolutely terrible performance for a recovery.”

Prof Wren-Lewis goes on to suggest that Peston might be saying as much himself if the Tory Government were not “breathing down the BBC’s neck”. The point that BBC political coverage is being distorted by Tory influence is a very good one, as anybody who has seen Question Time recently will know.

In fairness to Peston, he does point out that any extra economic growth did not translate into higher tax revenues for the government. Where did that money go (if it doesn’t exist only in the minds of ONS statisticians and Mr Peston)?

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