Boris Johnson repeated on Wednesday during a tense Prime Minister Questions (PMQs) “incorrect” claims that there are now “more people in work than before the pandemic began.”
The UK’s statistics watchdog, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) wrote to Downing Street on Tuesday to complain Johnson’s false claim.
Director General Ed Humpherson warned Johnson that “most of the self-employed and those whose jobs are not part of company payroll are excluded” from this.
The comes as Humpherson noted the Prime Minister had referred to payroll employment of the PAYE real time information.
Downing Street was informed, “The number of people on employer payrolls does not include everyone in work.
“ONS publishes data on the number of people in employment.
“The data for January March 2020 estimate that 33.0m people were in employment compared with 32.4m people in employment for September November 2021.
“It is therefore incorrect to state that there were more people in work at the end of this period than the start.”
On Wednesday Johnson told the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during PMQs, “Above all, the most important thing we are doing is helping people into work.
“500,000 people off welfare and into work under our Way to Work scheme.
“More people in work than before the pandemic began and that is the record of this government.”
It appears that Johnson’s claim is untrue the government are trying to get half a million “off welfare and into work,” instead they want to get the number of people who are on benefits into work by June.
However, many people out of the 500,000 could still claim Universal Credit due to low wages.
Humpherson wrote to Downing Street’s chief analyst Laura Gilbert on Tuesday saying, “It was disappointing that some earlier statements continued to refer to payroll employment as if describing total employment, despite contact from our office and from others.
“When we spoke, you emphasised the efforts that your colleagues take to ensure that briefings are accurate.
“I would like to thank you and colleagues for these efforts, which recognise that it is important that statements made to inform public debate are unambiguous.”
Will Moy, CEO, Full Fact said on Tuesday, “We welcome today’s intervention from the Office for Statistics Regulation. The public deserves statistics they can believe, and the Prime Minister must now correct the record.
“Correcting mistakes is not an admission of failure, but a way for our elected representatives to lead by example, help build trust in public life and challenge those who promote cynicism about politics and our democracy.”