Gaffe-prone employment minister Chris Grayling added to his opus of incompetence today by claiming large numbers of previously ‘stay at home’ mothers were deciding to look for work, leading to a big reduction in ‘economic inactivity’ among women – a claim which, as usual with Grayling or his DWP master IDS, doesn’t stand up.
IPPR’s Nick Pearce has more:
To back up this claim, Grayling highlighted figures showing a 71,000 drop in female economic inactivity over the last year. These also confirm that there has been an 85,000 rise in the number of women unemployed, so even if they are looking for work many are not finding it.
However, looking beneath the headline figures the story is not quite as the minister claims. The Office for National Statistics (pdf) breaks down inactivity by age groups. This does show that inactivity among women aged 16–64 has fallen by 71,000. However, that’s not the whole story.
Inactivity among women aged 16-17 had dropped by 10,000 in the last year, but most won’t be parents. Looking at those aged between 18 and 49 – when most women have young children – economic inactivity has actually increased by 3,000 in the last year. By contrast, among older women, aged 50-64, inactivity has reduced by 63,000.
Another way of putting this is that almost 90 per cent of the drop in female inactivity in the last year had been among women aged over 50. Not quite the story Chris Grayling was trying to tell.
With C4 Fact Check adding:
The IPPR actually thinks the figures show the reverse of what Mr Grayling wants them to show.
Mr Pearce said:
“It is much more likely that women with young children are being put off a return to work – through a combination of cuts to tax credits and childcare support and the tough job market – with major negative long-term consequences for them and the economy as a whole.
“By contrast many older women are realising that they don’t have the pension provision they hoped for and so need to stay in employment – or at least look for work – for longer.”
Of course that’s just a theory, but so is Mr Grayling’s notion about mothers trying (and apparently failing) to return to work.
And a more in-depth look at the government’s own figures suggests it’s a theory that doesn’t hold much much water.
Not that we should be surprised; as the links below highlight, Left Foot Forward has long chronicled the calamities of one of the Tory party’s most incompetent frontbenchers, in opposition as in government:
• Grayling’s tabloid pandering gone mad 29 Aug 2011
• IDS’ stats rebuke is tip of the iceberg 19 Nov 2010
• Investigation ordered into DWP’s use of statistics 11 Nov 2010
• New Grayling porkie on welfare reform statistics 27 Oct 2010
• Another balls-up by Calamity Chris! 12 Aug 2010
• Grayling’s use of crime stats attacked by fact checkers 27 Apr 2010
• Grayling fails to welcome fall in violent crime 23 Apr 2010
• Cameron slams Grayling on B&B remarks 20 Apr 2010
• Calamity Grayling opposes Cameron’s unilateral bank tax 20 Mar 2010
• Grayling’s immigration cap is “completely Stalinist” 10 Dec 2009
• Gray days for Grayling 9 Oct 2009
• Grayling’s revisionism on Wire comparisons 6 Oct 2009
• Grayling’s fears over new vetting scheme misplaced 11 Sep 2009
• Grayling depicts Wire fiction as fact 25 Aug 2009
To screw up once may be considered unlucky, twice unfortunate; to have done so repeatedly? Still, I suppose he makes the rest of them look like they know what they’re doing… Wait a minute!