Credit: Estonian Presidency of the EU / CC BY 2.0
The UK’s statistical office has warned Boris Johnson once again about his use of statistics after he made a false statement about the level of employment in parliament for the ninth time.
The Prime Minister said in response to questions from the Prime Minister on April 27 that there were 500,000 more people than before the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the UK had 588,000 fewer people than two years ago.
Johnson made comments in the House of Commons before the ONS released today updated employment statistics, which show that the unemployment rate between January and March fell slightly and reached a nearly 50-year low. However, overall employment, however, remains below pre-pandemic levels.
The latest ONS data shows that the UK employed 32.569 million people in January-March this year compared to 33.073 million in December 2019 and February 2020.
Although there are now more people on wages than before the pandemic, this increase is more than offset by a reduction in the number of people working for hire.
Xiang Jones, interim chairman of UKSA, said: “The Prime Minister needs to be clearer in his claims regarding employment compared to what was before the pandemic.”
Earlier, the prime minister had made eight similar incorrect claims to PMQ employment figures since November, according to a fact-finding charity by Full Fact.
Jones turned to Johnson’s latest comments in a letter to Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine, who wrote to the authorities to ask what could be done to prevent a repeat of the prime minister’s future.
“The UK Statistical Office is committed to protecting the role of statistics in public debate; we want statistics to be used and interpreted properly, ”Jones said.
“We will continue to emphasize the importance of accuracy and clarity with number 10 and work with manufacturers to present statistics in a way that minimizes the risk of misuse,” she added.
UKSA has repeatedly warned Johnson about using him statistics this year, including for the same false statement.
Former UKSA chairman Sir David Norgrove wrote to Johnson on February 24, reproaching him for “selectively” using unemployment statistics in PMQ three weeks earlier.
Norgrove also criticized the prime minister in January for the fact that crime had fallen by 14% but had actually risen by 14%. Johnson omitted fraud and computer use of numbers to get a “deceptive” number.
Ed Hamferson, director general of regulation at the Office of Statistical Regulation, has also previously expressed concern about Johnson’s “disappointing” use of statistics, writing on February 1 to Laura Gilbert, director of data science № 10.
And Jones said her office also “several times” contacted the № 10 briefing team because of false statements.