Tuesday, August 19, 2014

David Cameron Rebuked Over Jobs Claim

This article titled “David Cameron rebuked over jobs claim” was written by Phillip Inman, economics correspondent, for The Guardian on Monday 18th August 2014 18.53 UTC

David Cameron has been rebuked for claiming that the majority of new jobs created last year were taken by UK nationals when figures for new jobs are not collected by the official statistics body.

Sir Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, the independent statistics regulator, said the prime minister was wrong to say figures showed that more than three-quarters of all new jobs went to British citizens when “official statistics do not show the number of new jobs.‟

Cameron was attempting to show in an interview for the Daily Telegraph that the government had reversed a situation in its first few years of office when he claimed a majority of new jobs were taken by migrant workers. The interview was widely interpreted as an attempt to win over Ukip voters who believed most jobs created as Britain’s economy recovered were being snapped up by foreigners.

Following a complaint by Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economic & Social Research, Dilnot confirmed that neither the original fear that migrants were taking British jobs nor the reversal of this trend were supported by official data.

Portes, who has run a campaign to highlight misreported jobs data, said No 10 was not the only culprit and anti-immigration campaigners had for years been arguing that a majority of new jobs went to immigrants. “This is something that has never been debunked so clearly. Not only is it the case that most jobs have always gone to British nationals, it is still the case,” he said.

Employment data collected by the Office for National Statistics relates to jobs in the economy whether or not they are newly created by employers. Dilnot said the relevant figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of migrants in the labour force increased by 400,000 over the last five years, an 18% rise, while the number of UK nationals increased by 3%, or 900,000.

It is not the first time the government has tripped up in its use of statistics. In 2012, Dilnot upheld a complaint by the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, after the then health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said expenditure on the NHS was higher in real terms in 2011-12 than it in 2009-10, when in fact it was lower.

A month later, Cameron was criticised for stating that the coalition was “paying down Britain’s debts” when he meant the annual deficit. The national debt has risen in each of the financial years of this parliament and the last – increasing from £828.7bn, or 57.1% of GDP, to £1.25tn, or 75.7% of GDP, since May 2010.

In May 2013, Iain Duncan Smith was rebuked for claiming that 8,000 people had moved into work as a result of the introduction of the benefit cap.

Dilnot has also written to Chuka Umunna after the shadow business secretary said figures showed there had been a rise in the use of zero-hours contracts, when the figures had been collected in a new format and comparison with past data was impossible.

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