Minister accused of misleading with cribbed welfare stats

During a House of Commons debate on housing benefit last week the secretary of state said:

“We now know that, according to the Office for National Statistics, the private marketplace in housing fell by around 5 per cent last year. At the same time, Local Housing Allowance rates had risen by 3 per cent. There is thus a 7 per cent gap with what is going on in the marketplace.”

However, the Department for Work and Pensions has now accepted that this was not true, and that the figures in fact came from a property website, findaproperty.com.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said:

“DWP press officers and Ministers should not cut fast and loose with dodgy stats. I think the public will draw their own conclusions when the Secretary of State has access to the best statisticians in the land via the Office of National Statistics, and best rental data via the Valuation Office, and yet would prefer to use findaproperty.com.  

“In an age of austerity it makes you wonder why taxpayers are paying for all these Government statisticians if the department would rather look up any old statistic off the web than use the professionals they have at their disposal.”

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