David Cameron rebuked over jobs claim
PM claimed majority of new jobs created last year were taken by UK nationals, but no official figures for new jobs are collected.
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 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 and 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 (ONS) 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.
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 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.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Under this government, nearly 70% of the rise in employment has been accounted for by UK nationals. And, as the PM has said, over the last year more than three-quarters of the rise in the number of people in work were UK nationals.”
- The Guardian,