Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Look What We've Spent.But Don't Scrutinise the Stats

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Look What We've Spent.But Don't Scrutinise the Stats

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker

HE Government seems to have a problem with statistics.

Twice recently, it's been chastised for giving out misleading information. Specifically, ministers including the Prime Minister gave the impression that the Government had increased funding for services when this wasn't really true.

One occasion involved school funding. Education Secretary Damian Hinds told the House of Commons on January 28 that "realterms funding per pupil is increasing across the system".

And it's true that the Government has announced an additional PS1.3bn for schools over two years.

But the effect is to keep funding per pupil steady - not to increase it - after inflation is taken into account.

This was confirmed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, an independent think tank, which said average funding per pupil will be "roughly consistent in real terms over the next two years".

Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, bought this up with the UK Statistics Authority.

Sir David Norgrove, the UK Statistics Authority chairman, replied in a letter: "Officials at the Department for Education have told us that this was said in error, and the record has now been corrected".

Secondly, there is the issue of police funding.

The Government has said repeatedly that it is increasing funding for policing.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons on February 7: "The Government is protecting police budgets. In fact, we are not just protecting police budgets, but increasing them with an extra PS450m."

And on February 21, she told the Commons: "We are providing extra funding for police forces."

A similar claim was made by the Home Office, which stated on its Twitter account: "The Government is providing a PS450m boost to #police funding".

Again, Labour complained to the UK Statistics Authority - and Sir David ruled that the comments could be misleading. He said: "In terms of the particular points you make, the Prime Minister's statement and the Home Office's tweet could have led the public to conclude incorrectly that central government is providing an additional PS450m for police spending in 2018/19. …

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