Call for 'misused' statistics probe

The TUC has called for an investigation into claims that the Government "misused" official statistics to say that its welfare reforms are working.

General secretary Frances O'Grady has written to the UK Statistics Authority, calling on it to investigate statements by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The minister said last week that the number of people to be affected by the £26,000 cap on benefits had fallen by 16,000, adding that this proved the welfare reforms were driving people to find work.

The TUC said the Government analysis on which Mr Duncan Smith based his claims stated there was no evidence of people changing their behaviour as a result of the cap, with the main reason being changes in the rules over eligibility.

Ms O'Grady said: "It was wrong for Iain Duncan Smith to claim that the impending benefits cap has spurred people into finding jobs.

"The Government's own analysts say that 16,000 fewer people will be affected because ministers have changed the rules about who is eligible, not because of any change in behaviour.

"The Department for Work and Pensions is a serial offender for misusing statistics. Perhaps ministers should be subject to a three-strikes-and-you're-out rule. If you need to make the supporting evidence up, then you must have a pretty weak argument.

"It is essential that the UK Statistics Authority investigates Mr Duncan Smith's use of official figures."

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: "Jobcentre Plus data clearly show that 8,000 people who would have been affected by the benefit cap have moved into work and 25,000 are accepting help to get a job.

"We have followed the correct procedures for publishing this data and it is available for anyone to study. Claims to the contrary are utterly unfounded."

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