Tag: UK Statistics Authority

Damian Hinds rebuked for misusing statistics and being conservative with the truth

The statistics watchdog today issued a stern rebuke to Damian Hinds (pictured last week at the Tory Party conference in Birmingham) accusing his department of misleading the public over school funding and standards

Education Secretary David Hinds’ careful use of numbers doesn’t add up

The chair of the UK’s statistics watchdog has written to education secretary Damian Hinds for the fourth time this year, raising “serious concerns” about his department’s use of school funding statistics.

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) launched an investigation into the Department for Education over a minister’s claim that it was spending “record amounts” on school funding, after it emerged that the figures included billions of pounds of university and private school fees.

The figures cited by the DfE and school standards minister Nick Gibb, in defending the government’s spending on education, included the money paid out by university students on tuition fees and money that parents spent on private school fees.

Sir David Norgrove, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, wrote to Hinds this morning, chastising him for repeatedly using misleading statistics to support misleading claims.

Hetan Shah, CEO of the Royal Statistical Society, described the rebuke as “blistering”, and said it was “amazing” for Sir David to send such a letter to a minister. 

“Extraordinary that [the Uk Statistical Authority] has felt it necessary to seek the secretary of state’s reassurance that his department remains committed to the statutory code of practice for statistics and, secondary that [the DfE] will start behaving in a manner that ‘does not mislead’,” he tweeted. 

The row erupted last week after the DfE and Gibb cited figures saying that the UK was the third-highest spender on education as a proportion of economic output in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of wealthy nations.

His comments came after more than 2,000 headteachers marched to Downing Street to protest at funding cuts. Headteachers also accused the government of eroding trust. Jules White, the head of Tanbridge House school in West Sussex and leader of the Worth Less? group, which has lobbied for fairer funding, said: “Parents and the wider public have a right to know the facts and the government cannot have it both ways; you cannot slash our budgets and then pretend all’s well. 

“The constant use of misinformation is placing an intolerable strain on headteachers’ relationships with the DfE. Trust is being eroded. We respectfully request the DfE to publicly set the record straight and, much more crucially, work with the chancellor to make a real-terms investment in our schools in the upcoming budget. ”

Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “If trust goes, there is little left for the profession to hold on to. Failing to face up to the truth will cheat an entire generation. The chancellor must now step up and rescue education funding. It is in the national interest.”

Mary Bousted, joint leader of the NEU teaching union, branded the DfE’s use of figures as “appalling.”  

Hinds has defended the department’s use of figures today in a letter to the Statistics Authority, and pledged to work closely with it to ensure that “all departmental statistics to be both factually accurate and used in the right context”.

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said the UKSA letter represented a “humiliating rebuke” for Conservative ministers and called on the government to come clean over the crisis in school funding.

The intervention by the UKSA follows a row last week over a claim by the DfE and the schools standards minister, Nick Gibb, that the UK’s spending on education was the third highest in the world.

Complaints were made to the UKSA after it emerged in a BBC report that the OECD figures on which the claim was based included university student tuition fees as well as fees paid by private school pupils.

Hinds wrote to MPs over the weekend defending his department’s claims, but following its investigation, the UKSA ruled the figure “included a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools … rather than a comparison of school spending alone. 

The result was to give a more favourable picture. Yet the context would clearly lead readers to expect that the figures referred to spending on schools

An accompanying letter by Ed Humpherson, UKSA’s director general for regulation, to the DfE’s chief statistician piled on the criticism.

“The way statistics have been presented gives a potentially misleading picture of changes in schools funding,” he wrote. “It is important that the department present statistics and data professionally and I encourage you to continue to work with communication teams to minimise the risk of misleading the public.”

The UKSA complained about a DfE tweet on school funding featuring a graph with a truncated axis which had the effect of “exaggerating” school spending figures. The information was also presented in cash terms rather than real terms.

It also criticised Gibb’s claim that in an international survey of reading abilities of nine-year-olds, England had leaped up the rankings last year after decades of falling standards, moving from 19th out of 50 countries to 8th. “This is not correct,” Norgrove pointed out. “Figures published last year show the increase was from 10th place in 2011 to 8th place in 2016.”

The UKSA also ruled on a complaint from shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, about the DfE’s oft-repeated claim that there were now “1.9 million more young people studying in good or outstanding schools”. The authority said the figure did not give a full picture and should be set in the context of increasing pupil numbers, changes to the inspection framework and out-of-date inspections.

“I am sure you share my concerns that instances such as these do not help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risk undermining them,” said David Norgrove.

The education secretary responded to the UKSA saying his department was “looking into the precise issues raised” but he went on to largely defend the disputed claims.

Here are both letters:

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The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP
Secretary of State for Education
(via email)

8 October 2018

Dear Secretary of State

I am writing to raise with you serious concerns about the Department for Education’s presentation and use of statistics. 

The UK Statistics Authority has had cause to publicly write to the Department with concerns on four occasions in the past year. 1 

I regret that the Department does not yet appear to have resolved issues with its use of statistics. Last week, the Minister of State for School Standards wrote that, in an international survey of reading abilities of nine-year-olds, England “leapfrogged up the rankings last year, after decades of falling standards, going from 19th out of 50 countries to 8th.”2. This is not correct. Figures published last year show the increase was from 10th place in 2011 to 8th place in 2016. 

My attention has also been drawn to a recent tweet and blog issued by the Department regarding education funding. 3 As the Authority’s Director General for Regulation has noted in a letter to the Department today, figures were presented in such a way as to misrepresent changes in school funding. In the tweet, school spending figures were exaggerated by using a truncated axis, and by not adjusting for per pupil spend. In the blog about government funding of schools (which I note your Department has now updated), an international comparison of spend which included a wide range of education expenditure unrelated to publicly funded schools was used, rather than a comparison of school spending alone. The result was to give a more favourable picture. Yet the context would clearly lead readers to expect that the figures referred to spending on schools. 

The Shadow Secretary of State for Education has written to express concerns about your use of a figure that appears to show a substantial increase in the number of children in high performing schools, as judged by OFSTED. While accurate as far as it goes, this figure does not give a full picture. It should be set in the context of increasing pupil numbers, changes to the inspection framework and some inspections that are now long in the past, as an earlier letter to the Department from the Office of Statistics Regulation pointed out. 

I am sure you share my concerns that instances such as these do not help to promote trust and confidence in official data, and indeed risk undermining them.

I seek your reassurance that the Department remains committed to the principles and practices defined in the statutory Code of Practice for Statistics. In particular, I urge the Department to involve the analysts closely in the development of its communications, to ensure that data are properly presented in a way that does not mislead. 

I have asked the Authority’s Director-General for Regulation, Ed Humpherson to speak with Jonathan Slater, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education, and to Neil McIvor, Head of Profession for Statistics at the Department for Education, about what the Department might do to improve its practice. 

I am copying this letter to the Minister of State for School Standards, to Mr Slater and Mr McIvor, and to John Pullinger, the National Statistician. 

  Yours sincerely
Sir David
  Sir David Norgrove

1 Letter from Ed Humpherson to Head of Profession (March 2018) National Pupil Database Access
Letter from Sir David Norgrove to Shadow Secretary of State for Education (March 2018), School Funding
Letter from Ed Humpherson to Head of Profession (January 2018) International Reading Literacy Study
Letter from Ed Humpherson to Jonathan Slater (November 2017) Department for Education breaches of the Code of Practice

2 The Telegraph (27 September 2018): Our whizzpopping phonics revolution is transforming literacy in schools
3 Department for Education (28 September 2018): Tweet regarding school funding
Department for Education (28 September 2018): Education in the Media: Funding

 

response
Dear David,

Thank you for your letter. 

I appreciate you drawing your concerns to my attention and very much welcome the work by the UKSA to ensure communication of statistics across Government meets the highest standards. We are keen to work closely with the UKSA and we want all departmental statistics to be both factually accurate and used in the right context.

We are looking into the precise issues that you raise, and the Permanent Secretary will write to the UKSA shortly with a more detailed response. It may be helpful though to respond on the points of substance, including for the public including for the public
record.

Taking funding first – we need to be clear about different types of funding and spending. However, several statistics in the OECD’s 2018 report comparing expenditure in 2015 (which as you know are the latest comparative data published by the OECD) demonstrate the UK as being among the higher spenders on education at primary and secondary level, whether you look at spend as a share of GDP, spend as a share of government spending or spend per pupil. It is true to say that the OECD has ranked the UK as the third highest for total education spending – the figure which includes tertiary and private education for every country. A more direct statistic about school spending
specifically is that among G7 nations the UK government spent the highest percentage of its GDP on institutions delivering primary and secondary education.

On overall school funding, core funding is rising to £43.5bn by 2019-20. Of course, I recognise that pupil numbers are rising, we are asking schools to do more and schools are facing cost pressures. I am on record setting this out with a range of different audiences and agree that context is important.

Moving on to the survey of reading abilities, it is true to say that we have achieved our highest score in PIRLS since it first began in 2001 – in 2016 we were placed joint 8th. We agree that we could have been clearer that the improvement from 19th to 8th was between 2006 and 2016. We have put a great deal of emphasis on the teaching of phonics, introducing the phonics screening check in 2012, and since then many more six year olds are on track to be fluent readers.

Regarding the 1.9m statistic, I believe it is important to establish that the proportion of children in schools whose last Ofsted judgement was Good or Outstanding has risen from 66% in 2010 to 86% in March 2018; to make this more intelligible we tend to use the number of children rather than a percentage figure – hence we express it as 1.9m more children in Good or Outstanding schools. 

Our methodology is published at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-in-good-or-outstandingschools-august-2018As you know, Ofsted use a range of triggers for a reinspection, such as an unexpected fall in exam performance.

Naturally we want to ensure we always present those factually accurate statements, and all others, in line with your Code of Practice for Statistics and I look forward to working with your team further on that. More widely, in the interests of making sure the public debate is well-informed, I hope that others who produce and use statistics which become regularly cited will also aspire to the highest standards of data integrity, and that the UKSA can play a role in challenging where data could easily be open to misinterpretation.

Thank you once again and please be assured of my, and my department’s, continued commitment to working with you on the integrity of statistics and informing the public debate.

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Related

A list of official rebukes for Tory lies

Esther Mcvey forced to apologise for being conservative with the truth

It’s truly priceless that Iain Duncan Smith can accuse anyone of misrepresenting statistics with a straight face.

 


 

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Government rebuked again for misusing statisics – this time on homelessness

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Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Rosalind Grender, has submitted a formal complaint to the UK Statistics Authority about the government’s misuse of homelessness statistics in press notices and parliamentary debates.

In a letter responding to her concerns, Ed Humpherson, the Authority’s director general, said he agreed with her complaint. He described the Department’s use of the figures as “disappointing” and that it was “potentially misleading” to the public.

It’s not the first time the government has been reprimanded officially, for trying to mislead the public. Who could forget David Cameron being rebuked by the statistics watchdog over national debt claims – The PM said the government was “paying down Britain’s debts” in a political broadcast, even though the debt was rising (and continues to increase).

Then there was Iain Duncan Smith’s unforgettable misuse of benefit statistics – he was rebuked by Office for National Statistics (ONS) for his claim that 8,000 people moved into work as a result of the benefit cap which was found to be “unsupported by the official statistics.” 

Later in that same month, Duncan Smith also drew criticism and a reprimand for claiming around 1 million people have been “stuck on benefits” for at least three of the last four years “despite being judged capable of preparing or looking for work”. However, the figures cited also included single mothers, people who were seriously ill, and people awaiting assessment.

Anyone would think that the Conservatives are trying to hide the damaging consequences of their draconian policies. (See: The DWP mortality statistics: facts, values and Conservative concept control.) 

The UK Statistics Authority disputed figures announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which claimed last year that homelessness had been more than halved since 2003.

However, the government’s claim was based on a very narrow statutory definition of homelessness which included only those who authorities are obliged to help. The number did not take into account homeless people who were given assistance under other schemes.The overall number of people facing homelessness has not dropped. The government also did not explicitly include the statutory homelessness definition in parliamentary debates in the House of commons and Lords, or in press releases.

A spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “We’re aware of the issue raised and have taken steps to make sure this does not arise in future.”

Baroness Grender welcomed the finding saying that the Government “has been caught out playing a numbers game, rather than accepting there is a problem, and getting on with the important work of finding solutions”.  

“It is time to stop spinning the statistics and start solving the problem,” she said.

 

Looks like my list from 2014  – A list of official rebukes for Tory lies – needs updating.

 

Related

Government backs new law to prevent people made homeless through government laws from becoming homeless

Labour Party To Refer Groundless Iain Duncan Smith Claim To Statistics Watchdog Again

 


 

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Labour Party To Refer Groundless Iain Duncan Smith Claim To Statistics Watchdog Again

Steve Bell cartoon


Iain Duncan Smith is telling fibs again. Work and pensions secretary claims that 75% of jobseekers think that benefit sanctions have helped them “focus and get on.”

The following is reported by Rowena Mason and Patrick Butler, for theguardian.com on Saturday 12th March 2016:

Labour is to challenge Iain Duncan Smith’s claim that 75% of jobseekers think benefit sanctions have helped them “focus and get on” by lodging a complaint with the official statistics watchdog.

Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said he would write to Duncan Smith challenging him to back up the “groundless” figure and refer the matter to the UK Statistics Authority for investigation.

The work and pensions secretary made the claim in an interview with the Camden New Journal, in which he suggested many claimants were grateful for the consequences of benefit sanctions.

“Seventy-five per cent of all those who have been sanctioned say it helped them focus and get on. Even the people in the jobcentres think it’s the right thing to do … sanctions are the reason why we now have the highest employment levels ever in the UK, and more women in work,” Duncan Smith said.

“What we say is: ‘We’ll give you all the support but at the end of the day we expect you to do something for it: go back to work, take the job, take the interviews.’ And it works, talk to any of the advisers in the jobcentres.”

While out campaigning for the Tory London mayoral candidate, Zac Goldsmith, Duncan Smith also dismissed protests about the controversial sanctions regime as “a classic buzz from the left” and claimed “these people are never going to vote for us – you have to understand, these people hate us”.

Owen Smith said: “Iain Duncan Smith’s claim that 75% of people who had been sanctioned say it ‘helped them focus and get on’ is groundless and shows he is out of touch with the real impacts of policies introduced by his department.

In reality, widespread concerns have been raised about this government’s use of sanctions, including from their own advisers, which is why the cross-party work and pensions select committee called for a full independent review into the system.

However, Iain Duncan Smith is reluctant to accept such scrutiny. Labour is calling for far greater transparency and honesty in this debate, so we can ensure greater numbers of people are actually helped into work, while being treated fairly.

That is why I will be writing to the secretary of state to inform him that we will refer his use of data to the Statistics Authority and calling for the long overdue independent review into sanctions to begin.”

Duncan Smith is believed to have been referring to DWP research that found 72% of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants said awareness of sanctions made them “more likely to follow the rules.”

However, that paper also said: “There was no evidence from the survey that knowledge of JSA conditions led to actual movement into work. Respondents who said they were more likely to look for work because of their knowledge of JSA conditions were no more likely than other respondents to have moved into work when they left JSA.”

After the interview, the Department for Work and Pensions released a statement saying: “Decisions on sanctions aren’t taken lightly but are an important part of our benefits system – they are only ever used as a last resort and the number of sanctions continues to fall.”

It is not the first time the UK statistics watchdog has been asked to adjudicate on the DWP’s approach to the sanctions regime.

Last year, it asked the DWP to ensure its statements on jobseeker sanctions are “objective and impartial” following a series of complaints by experts.

At the time, the authority’s chair, Sir Andrew Dilnot, wrote to the DWP’s top statistician asking the department to publish far more data and give the public a clearer understanding of how it is imposing sanctions on jobseekers.

Sanctions are used by civil servants to penalise jobseekers when they are alleged to have broken benefit rules, with punishments becoming increasingly severe over the last parliament.

The government has faced repeated calls from Labour to rethink the system, but is resisting pressure for an independent inquiry.

The Commons work and pensions committee last year urged the government to hold a wide-ranging independent review of the regime to address widespread concerns that it is unfair, excessively punitive, and does little to help people get into work.

© Guardian News & Media Limited 2010.

Related

A List of Official Rebukes For Tory Lies

Department of Work and Pensions officials admit to using fake claimant’s comments to justify benefit sanctions

The Department of Whopping Porkies is rebuked as claimants suddenly develop mysterious superpowers after being sanctioned

A letter of complaint to Andrew Dilnot regarding Coalition lies about employment statistics

Audit finds whereabouts and circumstances of 1.5 million people leaving welfare records each year “a mystery”

A list of official rebukes for Tory lies

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Here is catalogue of officially recognised Tory lies – each one used to justify their unjustifiable policies – which have resulted in official reprimands:

Government used ‘misleading’ figures to claim homelessness halved – Statistics authority warns Government claims to have halved homelessness  are based on the government’s very narrow definition of terms.

George Osborne rebuked for ‘no cuts in police budgets’ claim –  The Chancellor claimed he would provide “real-terms protection” but forces face £160m funding cut, statistics watchdog rules. Sir Andrew Dilnot, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, ruled that despite Osborne’s claim to be providing “real-terms protection” for the police, forces actually faced a £160m real-terms cut in their Whitehall funding in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

A House of Commons analysis estimated that the £160m cut was equal to the salaries of 3,200 police officers over the two years.

David Cameron rebuked by statistics watchdog over national debt claims The PM said the government was ‘paying down Britain’s debts’ in a political broadcast, even though the debt is actually rising.

“Now that his false claims have been exposed, it’s time the prime minister stopped deliberately misleading people about his economic record” – Rachel Reeves.

Finally Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise? David Cameron rebuked over austerity claims – Cameron has been corrected by the Treasury’s own forecaster over claims that cuts in public spending are not reducing economic growth. The Office for Budget Responsibility told the Prime Minister that it does believe that cutting public spending will reduce economic growth in the short term.

Robert Chote, the head of the OBR, contradicted a claim Cameron made in a speech about the economy, in which the Prime Minister said the forecaster does not believe cuts are reducing growth.

In fact, as Mr Chote wrote, the OBR believes that cuts in spending and increases in tax will depress economic activity, meaning lower growth.

OBR head rebukes Osborne: the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy. Office for Budget Responsibility chief Robert Chote dismisses the Conservative “danger of insolvency” claim.

In the weeks after he took office, George Osborne justified his austerity programme by claiming that Britain was on “the brink of bankruptcy”. He told the Conservative conference in October 2010: “The good news is that we are in government after 13 years of a disastrous Labour administration that brought our country to the brink of bankruptcy.”

It was, of course, nonsense.

*Please note the original link to the New Statesman article seems to have curiously vanished. So here is a cached link to the same article: OBR head rebukes Osborne: the UK was never at risk of bankruptcy.

David Cameron rebuked over jobs claim: 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 most new jobs were taken by migrant workers. The interview was widely interpreted as an attempt to win over Ukip voters who believe most jobs created as Britain’s economy recovers are 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.

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 ONS 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.

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.”

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham launched a scathing rebuke of the decision to exercise the Government’s veto in a report on the case to Parliament. Blocking the publication of a report into the risks of NHS reforms is a sign that ministers want to downgrade freedom of information laws, a watchdog has warned. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley deployed it to block an Information Tribunal ruling that he should meet Labour demands to disclose the document.

Duncan Smith rebuked by ONS for misuse of benefit statistics – The claim that 8,000 people moved into work as a result of the benefit cap is “unsupported by the official statistics”, says the UK Statistics Authority. In letter to Duncan Smith, Andrew Dilnot writes: “In the manner and form published, the statistics do not comply fully with the principles of the Code of Practice, particularly in respect of accessibility to the sources of data, information about the methodology and quality of the statistics, and the suggestion that the statistics were shared with the media in advance of their publication.”

Another statement by Duncan Smith later in the month also drew criticism and a reprimand. The minister said around 1 million people have been stuck on benefits for at least three of the last four years “despite being judged capable of preparing or looking for work”.

However, the figures cited also included single mothers, people who were seriously ill, and people awaiting testing.

Iain Duncan Smith Rebuked Over Immigration Statistics – Iain Duncan Smith and the Department of Work and Pensions have been accused of publishing misleading immigration figures that were “highly vulnerable to misinterpretation”. Figures showing 371,000 immigrants were on benefits were rushed out by ministers with insufficient regard for “weaknesses” in the data, according to the UK Statistics Authority.

In a strongly-worded rebuke to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the head of the UKSA, Sir Michael Scholar, condemned the handling of the research, the Press Association reported.

Sir Michael said that despite being “highly vulnerable to misinterpretation”, the claims were given to the media without the safeguards demanded for official statistics and by issuing the figures as a “research paper”, the DWP had bypassed the need to meet the usual code of conduct, he noted.

Grant Shapps rebuked by UK Statistics Authority for misrepresenting benefit figures – Yet another Conservative politician is caught making it up. Grant Shapps has joined his fellow Conservatives in the data hall of shame. In March, the Tory chairman claimed that “nearly a million people” (878,300) on incapacity benefit had dropped their claims, rather than face a new medical assessment for its successor, the employment and support allowance.

The figures, he said, “demonstrate how the welfare system was broken under Labour and why our reforms are so important”. The claim was faithfully reported by the Sunday Telegraph  but as the UK Statistics Authority has now confirmed in its response to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore (see below), it was entirely fabricated.

In his letter to Shapps and Iain Duncan Smith, UKSA chair Andrew Dilnot writes that the figure conflated “official statistics relating to new claimants of the ESA with official statistics on recipients of the incapacity benefit (IB) who are being migrated across to the ESA”. Of the 603,600 incapacity benefit claimants referred for reassessment as part of the introduction of the ESA between March 2011 and May 2012, just 19,700 (somewhat short of Shapps’s “nearly a million) abandoned their claims prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012.

The figure of 878,300 refers to the total of new claims for the ESA closed before medical assessment from October 2008 to May 2012. Thus, Shapps’s suggestion that the 878,300 were pre-existing claimants, who would rather lose their benefits than be exposed as “scroungers”, was entirely wrong.

As significantly, there is no evidence that those who abandoned their claims did so for the reasons ascribed by Shapps.

The chair of the UK Statistics Authority has rebuked shadow home secretary Chris Grayling – the authority have said  he “must take issue” with claims made by the Conservatives and  warned the way they use violent crime statistics is “likely to mislead the public” and damage public trust. Mr Grayling has used a comparison between  figures to suggest that the Labour government has presided over a runaway rise in violent crime.

Even Iain Duncan Smith said that such comparisons were “profoundly misleading” and London’s Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, described Grayings’ claim as “absolute nonsense”. Chris Grayling made a headline-grabbing speech in which he likened life in Britain’s inner cities to that in Baltimore, Maryland, as portrayed in the acclaimed television series The Wire. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, remarked: “The connection between The Wire and Chris Grayling’s grasp on the problems of modern Britain is that they are both fictional.”

Treasury rebuked by UK Statistics Authority for inflation leaks – Britain’s statistics watchdog, ordered the Treasury to review its processes after sensitive inflation data this month was sent to 400 unauthorised people 17 hours before its release. Sir Michael warned: “There is a risk of market manipulation if key economic data fall in to the wrong hands before publication.”

Speculation data was leaking into the market ahead of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announcement has been rife. Market rumours correctly predicted the last two Consumer Price Index inflation releases just before publication – in April and May.

UK Statistics rebukes Government over NHS spending claims – David Cameron famously promised he would cut the deficit, not the NHS. We now have it in black and white: he is cutting the NHS, not the deficit. There could be no clearer evidence of the failure of this Prime Minister and his Government.

“For months, David Cameron’s Government have made misleading boasts about NHS spending, misrepresenting the true financial difficulties he has brought upon the NHS. At the same time they have recently begun to try to distance themselves from these problems which David Cameron has created, trying to shift the blame to the NHS and its staff”Andy Burnham.

The watchdog has called on ministers to correct claims the coalition has made that they increased NHS spending in England. The UK Statistics Authority upheld a complaint by Labour about government claims the NHS budget had increased in real-terms in the past two years.

The watchdog found that the best-available Treasury data suggested real-terms health spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10. The Coalition said during its spending review that the NHS budget had gone up.

Coalition rebuked again by UK Statistics Authority  – this time on flood defence spending. Andrew Dilnot says a Treasury graph on infrastructure left readers with “a false impression of the relative size of investment between sectors”. George Osborne and the Treasury have been reprimanded for misleading people about the government’s investment in infrastructure. For example, their chart made it look like investment in flood defences was roughly the same as in other areas, when in fact it was a tiny fraction.

Andrew Dilnot rebukes Treasury again over the false presentation of statistics in the National Infrastructure Plan.

The UK Statistics Authority has censured the Department for Education Sir Michael Wilshaw – appointed by Mr Gove as Ofsted chief inspector – for using uncertain, weak and “problematic” statistics to claim that England’s schools have tumbled down the global rankings – the central justification for Goves’ sweeping school reforms. But now the government’s own statistics watchdog has called into question the figures at the heart of the education secretary’s argument. His verdict is a blow to Mr Gove’s claim that England has “plummeted in the world rankings” given that the education secretary has been so unequivocal about the figures, arguing that “these are facts from which we cannot hide”.

Senior Conservative ministers have been rebuked for attempting to cover up Government statistics – showing one of their key housing policies is not working. In his ruling, seen by the Independent, the Information Commissioner roundly rejected the argument put forward by DCLG officials and demanded that the information be released.

“The exemptions cited by DCLG require more than the possible inconvenience in responding to queries about disclosures,” he wrote scathingly.

“The Commissioner considers that DCLG has not provided arguments which demonstrate that disclosure would inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.”

He ordered that the information is to be released.

And what did it show? In a short table released to the Labour Party, it showed that the number of people who begin self-build homes had fallen since the depths of the recession in 2009 under Labour from 11,800 to 10,400 in 2011.

Oddly the department claimed it did not hold the statistics for 2012 – despite the fact that more than five months had elapsed since the period covered by the data.

Theresa May rebuked over illegally deported asylum seeker – A rare court order calls on the home secretary to find and bring back a Turkish national and investigate UK Border Agency conduct.

The home secretary has returned to the high court and asked Mr Justice Lloyd Jones to set aside the order. The request was rejected and May now has to ensure the man is brought back to the UK. It is rare for orders to be granted by the court calling for people who have been forcibly removed from the UK to be returned and even rarer for the home secretary not to comply with them.

Mr Justice Singh stated that he was “very concerned” the government had failed to comply with his order.

In the court documents a senior UK Border Agency official admitted: “It is regrettable that the claimant was removed in spite of a court order preventing removal.”

Watchdog reprimands Eric Pickles’ department for £217m overdraft – The National Audit Office finding is embarrassing for the communities secretary, who was praised by chancellor as a ‘model of lean government’ – for his ability to impose cuts on struggling councils – he has been reprimanded by the Whitehall spending watchdog for running up an unauthorised departmental overdraft of £217m, the NAO disclosed that the Treasury had imposed a £20,000 fine on his department as a punishment for its poor financial management.

The head of the civil service officially reprimanded David Cameron over the behaviour of his special advisers – following ‘unacceptable’ briefings to journalists, PR Week has learned. Sir Gus O’Donnell was so alarmed at briefings coming out of Government that he wrote a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister urging him to restrain his aides.

Prime Minister is rebuked over Liam Fox inquiry, for failing to call in his independent adviser to look at claims that the ministerial code had been breached. Fox resigned after being found guilty of breaching the code in his relations with lobbyist Mr Werritty.

MPs also claim the advisory role itself “lacks independence” after a new candidate was appointed behind closed doors by Mr Cameron.

Office of National Statistics rebukes David Cameron because of his false claim that average waiting time in Accident & Emergency has fallen.

Andrew Dilnot rebukes Cameron regarding the false claim that most new jobs in Britain used to go to foreign workers but now go to British workers.

David Cameron rebuked AGAIN by the Office of National Statistics for the false claim that Britain is “paying down its debts”. The Prime Minister said Britain had been “paying down its debts” during the Tory party conference, Sir Andrew Dilnot, pointed out that, while the deficit has fallen since the Coalition came to power in 2010, debt has risen.

And he noted that he had already rebuked Mr Cameron for making the same claim in a party political broadcast in 2013.

George Osborne rebuked for boasting he halved £1.7bn EU surchargeThe all-party Treasury select committee said: “The suggestion that the £1.7bn bill demanded by the European Union was halved is not supported by published information.”

The committee’s reproach is a blow to Osborne before the general election, when the Tories are expected to come under fire from Eurosceptics inside the party and from Ukip over the size of the UK’s EU contribution.

Finally, Coalition is rebuked by Churches over ‘human cost’ of austerity measures – despite Camerons’ claim that his policies are because of “divine inspiration”

Further evidence – UK Statistics Authority correspondence listcomplaints and responses regarding Tory lies.

This list was taken from a longer article: Austerity, socio-economic entropy and being conservative with the truth

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Pictures courtesy of Robert Livingstone.

Related articles:

The Great Debt Lie and the Myth of the Structural Deficit

The mess we inherited” – some facts with which to fight the Tory Big Lies

The word “Tories” is an abbreviation of “tall stories”