‘Let’s get the facts straight’. Yes, Mr Cameron, please do.
19 February 2014
- Government stats misleading on Monday, wrong on Wednesday
- Prime Minister neither understands his own figures nor the real
consequences of welfare reform, say Churches
Four major British Churches have criticised David Cameron for
neither understanding his Government's own figures nor recognising
the reality of more and more people facing destitution.
The Church of Scotland, Baptist Union of Great Britain,
Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and charity Housing
Justice, which collectively represent more than a million people,
have responded to an article by the Prime Minister in
today's Daily Telegraph. In the piece, Mr Cameron claims that
the number of workless households doubled over the last decade,
when ONS data shows that they increased from 3.7 million in 1997 to
3.9 million in 2010, not 7.4 million as his claim would
"Mr Cameron repeats tired and discredited numbers which paint an
inaccurate picture of 'welfare dependent' families spending years
on benefits and receiving huge amounts of money," said Paul
Morrison, Public Issues Policy Adviser and author of
The lies we tell ourselves: ending comfortable myths about
poverty, a report dispelling six common myths about
The Prime Minister stated that that almost a million and a half
people spent the last decade out of work. He did not mention that
most of these people were sick or carers. Only 1,000 were
unemployed for a decade - the remainder were unable to work due to
illness or caring responsibilities. According to the government's
own statistics, more people received beneﬁts due to terminal
illness and yet survived for a decade, than were unemployed for a
He also spoke of people claiming 'unlimited amounts of housing
benefit' and yet in 2010 only 0.01% of households received more
than £40,000 in housing benefit. In the same year, more than half
of housing benefit claims were for less than £4,000 for the
"If Mr Cameron can't even understand his own figures, how will
he ever grasp the reality of UK poverty?" added Mr Morrison. "We
have spent this past year campaigning and
writing to Mr Cameron and his ministers about how his
Government's misuse of statistics denigrates the poor - and we have
yet to receive either explanation or correction.
"It is disappointing that the response to the Archbishop has
been characterised by misleading numbers from the
DWP Press Office on Monday and straightforwardly untrue numbers
from the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
"Last year half a million people relied on foodbanks, this year
we expect that number to be much higher. The key question - why
Churches and charities are seeing more people in abject destitution
- remains unanswered.
"Mr Cameron says he wants to stick to the facts, and that is the
fact he urgently needs to address."