Media Watch: ‘Better off’ with the Tories? Don’t believe a word of it

Tory press spins Institute for Fiscal Studies budget analysis to boost George Osborne

 

When reporting on yesterday’s budget, it seems the devil is in the details.

‘We ARE better off with George’, yelped the Daily Mail today, waving analysis of chancellor George Osborne’s budget by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS):

“Families will be better off this year than they were when the coalition came to power, independent experts said yesterday.

“In a boost to George Osborne, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said it was ‘very likely’ that household incomes would be higher this year than in 2010. […]

This claim is echoed by the Sun, which said:

“After scrutinising the budget, IFS director Paul Johnson said: ‘Average household incomes are finally rising, and probably will be higher in 2015 than they were in 2010, and possibly higher than their 2009 peak.'”

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But here’s the full quote from Mr Johnson’s statement. Note the very next line, missing from the Sun:

“Average household incomes have just about regained their pre-recession levels. They are finally rising and probably will be higher in 2015 than they were in 2010, and possibly higher than their 2009 peak. But that still represents by far the slowest recovery in incomes in modern history.

Having household incomes crawl back up above pre-recession levels six or seven years after the recession hit is no cause for celebration.”

Strange that a sensationalist tabloid like the Sun would leave out the line “slowest recovery in modern history”

In both the Mail and the Telegraph (‘Living standards boost a blow for Labour’), the IFS remarks above are included, albeit near the end of the stories. As is often the case with right-wing newspapers (especially the Mail), you get a more accurate picture if you read the story backwards.

But these claims about Osborne’s success deserve a closer look.

As the stories note, Labour’s claim that people are £1,600 worse off in 2015 than in 2010 is based on data from a few months ago, and uses the Retail Price Index to measure inflation, rather than the Consumer Price Index or the RPIJ.

But as this graph from Full Fact demonstrates, whichever measure you use on average people will be worse off than in 2010 by at least £900.

Wage gap

On the other hand, the IFS says Osbone’s claim that people are £900 better off is based on net incomes, rather than gross earnings. Comparing the claims of the two parties, Mr Johnson said:

“As ever there is much truth in both numbers. Real earnings have fallen, as Mr Miliband says. Real incomes should be above their 2010 level as Mr Osborne says.

“We are for sure much worse off on average than we could reasonably have expected to be back in 2007 or indeed back in 2010.

So when the Tory press claims that people are ‘better off’ than in 2010, one question you have to ask is, ‘compared to what?’ “The slowest recovery in modern history” is nothing to boast about, you would think. But boast they do.

Another question to ask is, ‘better for whom?’ The IFS says people on middle and upper-middle incomes have been ‘remarkably insulated’ from tax and benefit changes.

The Sun budget front page

And this is one more IFS conclusion the Tory press fails to mention. George Osborne claims the richest have borne the greatest burden of these deficit-busting policies, and that’s true – but only if you start counting from when Gordon Brown was still prime minister.

If you exclude Labour’s more equitable policies and start from when the Tories took charge in 2010, the picture is very different:

“Looking at changes over the period of the consolidation as a whole the richest have been hit hardest.

Looking only at changes implemented by the coalition the poorest have seen the biggest proportionate losses.

All of this shows that for millions of people on low or middle incomes, this government has left them worse off, with the people who were already ‘better off’ being ‘insulated’ from St George’s magic touch – whatever you read to the contrary.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

33 Responses to “Media Watch: ‘Better off’ with the Tories? Don’t believe a word of it”

  1. Mike Stallard

    When Mr Blair and Gordon Brown were elected way back in 1997, they promised to do the economy properly and everyone believed that they would do just that.
    Then they started to spend and to run up debts.
    The Conservatives came in and promised to “repair the roof”. They have more than doubled the debt to surprisingly dangerous proportions.
    The Labour List idea of politics seems to be how much the state can give out in goodies. The Conservative idea of politics seems to be how much they can give out in goodies.
    You do not need a degree from Coventry University in Political Science to realise where this is heading…

  2. ForeignRedTory

    The IFS says people on middle and upper-middle incomes have been ‘remarkably insulated’ from tax and benefit changes.

    I think that nails it. If you were well off, you are better off.
    If not,then you are worse off.
    A very divisive Goverment….

  3. Guest

    So you’re unaware of how the debt fell under labour, for some years. Then they had a 0.6% average deficit.

    And yes, your beloved right have raised the debt sky high, as you call basic shelter and food “goodies”. You don’t need the degree you don’t have to see that the poor will live, if in increasingly worse health and ever-more cramped. No, the survival is unacceptable!

  4. madasafish

    Writer expects people to be better off after the worst UK recession in over 100 years.

    Strange he never mentions that…

    No doubt he also believes in goblins and faeries.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    Your policies caused the *depression*. Recovery from the *recession* was going fine until your right put an emergency halt to it!

    And why would he believe in your views?

  6. AlanGiles

    I don’t think even it’s best friends would describe The Sun “newspaper” as a serious newspaper, – I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole, but frankly Ed Miliband doesn’t look like a serious leader – he will dither, wobble and fudge over everything, and there will be the usual squabbles with the ageing Blairites that still clog up the PLP.

    Nothing will change on May 8th, assuming either main party gets a majority, which looks doubtful, though if UKIP implodes it will probably benefit the Tories rather than Labour.

  7. Godfrey Paul

    The hardworking backbone of the nation deserve it !

  8. Godfrey Paul

    The Tories saved us from ‘going Greek’ !!!!

  9. littleoddsandpieces

    We were once all hardworking paying into the system.

    Then the system stole all the mony from us to give to the rich.

    This will get worse from 2016.

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

  10. littleoddsandpieces

    Public spending did not cause the recession in the UK.

    Lehman Bros going bust is what nearly caused the banking system to crash
    world-wide.

    And Greece did not cause its demise.

    The EU caused most of Europe to be in a debtor’s prison by its policies.

    The EU were the lenders who still make a profit from debt.

    Troika imposed Austerity crashed all of
    south and east Europe’s economie.

    Then the EU stole:

    – pensions from all sources even to current pensioners,
    – cut wages so the money supply dried up and – killed business by over-taxation.

    There is no basic tax allowance in Greece (coming back with SYRIZA)
    nor social medicine
    (coming back with SYRIZA).

  11. littleoddsandpieces

    The OECD says UK debt today is only a world average.

    But debt has risen under the Tories.

    So Labour must have been far below an average world debt rate before 2010.

    Welfare and pension reform is the cause of more debt, not less, due to the rising cost of admin and massive overspends in IT projects, when it would have been cheaper
    to just pay the benefit.

    97 per cent of the benefits bill is to the working poor and poor pensioners, with only 3 per cent on unemployment.

    Benefit fraud is so tiny as to be irrelevant.

    Disability / chronic sick re-assessments are causing massive tens of billions of rising cost in state and private contract admin, when Labour just granted Life Awards for disability / sick benefits, from medical professional opinion,
    already in the NHS budget.

    Nil benefit, nil state pension, is coming from 2016.

    See why under:

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/state-pension-at-60-now

    COSTS JUST TRANSFERRED
    NOTHING SAVED

    1 million sanctions a year causing the
    huge rise in malnutrition hospital admissions.
    From hospital doctors, the state will not monitor.

    From home elder care cuts
    meaning more visits to NHS hospitals.
    Who adds up the over 40,000 elderly who die in frozen homes each year.

    From GP budgets being impacted by the rise in Rickets in kids, a hunger symptom effecting bone development.
    From GPs not monitored by the state.

    LABOUR WILL NOT CHANGE ANYTHING

    Mr Balls, Labour, has said he will not change anything from the Tory Budget.

    The only way to change Labour is to vote different.

    Because different MPs will utterly change Labour, and also shut out the Tories from government, in this predicted most severe hung parliament, that will otherwise just means another general election in 6 months time or less.

    See how at:
    http://www.anastasia-england.me.uk

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    Let’s see.

    The Greek problem *was* low collection of tax.
    Now it’s the damage caused by austerity.

    We were recovering fine, and tax was being collected.
    Now we have damage caused by austerity.

    The Tories have taken us far closer to the Greek’s economic situation.

  13. Guest

    Collecting your corporate welfare cheques is not hard work.

    You’re rejoicing in the rich doing well off the back of the poor, the backbone, the people who work hard. So…

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    Still trying to blame people rather than policies, I see.

  15. Guest

    You’re conflating the EU with the ECB and IMF.

  16. AlanGiles

    Leon the two Ed’s are total jokes, and their problem is that nobody is laughing. Just take a look at the shadow cabinet: Reeves and Ummuna, for example – grade A morons with a monstrous ego and a sense of entitlement that would make Prince Charles blush. They want to be in government, not because they have any coherent plans, but because they feel it is their turn.

    Balls makes a noise about the budget then says he would change nothing about it – a man full of wind and water

    In the end how a party is perceived comes down to the personalities at the top of that party, we hear millionaires like Balls & Miliband trying to launch class warfare on their millionaire counterparts and it just highlights what hypocrites they are.

  17. Leon Wolfeson

    And none of their personality issues stop me voting for them.

    What stops me, and a lot of others voting for them is their POLICY. Period.

    (Oh, I might hold my nose and vote if they were personally obnoxious but had the right sort of policies, accepting I was backing them…but without the right policies, they’re not even in contention!)

  18. AlanGiles

    Well, Labour and Conservative have been two cheeks of the same arse since 1997. Blair was the greatest leader the Conservatives ever had. I have honestly got to the point where I think I would rather keep Cameron rather than wander off into the unknown with Miliband being controlled by Balls and a hotchpotch of Blairite malcontents. At least he doesn’t look and sound as big a laughing stock

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    So you’re willing to vote even further to the right of Thatcher? I see.

    All based on your personal hatreds – sad.

  20. Norfolk29

    These poorer people who have suffered the most are also the majority of the people who do not vote at all, and, in many case, are not even on the electoral register. A true “Double Whammy”. Ask yourself why people who need the state and its safety net to catch them when they are unemployed, ill, suffer disability are the same people who will tell you at the door “Why vote when they are all the same. It makes no difference if you vote.”

  21. Norfolk29

    These poorer people who have suffered the most are also the majority of the people who do not vote at all, and, in many case, are not even on the electoral register. A true “Double Whammy”. Ask yourself why people who need the state and its safety net to catch them when they are unemployed, ill, suffer disability are the same people who will tell you at the door “Why vote when they are all the same. It makes no difference if you vote.”

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    Or have been dumped off the new register. A 5.5 million difference!

    Remember, too, that the electoral boundaries are drawn using the roll and NOT the population. So there’s going to be some nasty, nasty gerrymandering next time it gets revised!

  23. Castilian

    I don’t want to work hard or pay into the system.

  24. Castilian

    “I don’t think even it’s best friends would describe The Sun “newspaper” as a serious newspaper, – I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole”

    That’s because you are sniffily middle-class and believe yourself morally and intellectually superior to the working folks who read the Sun.

  25. Castilian

    He can’t be all bad then.

  26. Leon Wolfeson

    Nothing wrong with driving this country into the ground, oh no.
    Wait.

  27. Guest

    Nope, you’re protecting, from your sniffly 1%, as you emote over the plight of a workers class who need less money to further their lot in life, suffering. After all, you’re the “superior” one here.

    And the Sun makes a perfect cover for you, it can even be used to wipe..

  28. Guest

    And as you’re rich, you don’t need to. See how that works?

  29. AlanGiles

    It is not a serious newspaper: a few days ago it’s main lead was the attempted suicide of a soap opera character. Not the actor who plays it – the character. I don’t think any serious newspaper would, in the current world situation, regard THAT as the most important story of the day.

    The fact they did shows the contempt they hold their working “folks” as you choose to call them, in.

    Tedious references to class makes you sound like one of the hypocritical Oxbridge crowd who have infested British politics

  30. Castilian

    “Nope, you’re protecting, from your sniffly 1%”

    Eh? Could you rephrase that. I have no idea what you are talking about. As for me thinking myself superior, well that’s the charge I was levelling at those who sneer at the Sun.

  31. Castilian

    I’m not rich, though I would very much like to be. What made you think I’m rich?

  32. Castilian

    I know it’s not a serious newspaper and is full of cack, but to those who read it the attempted suicide of a soap opera character is the most important issue of the day.

    All tabloids hold a soft contempt for their readers – believing them too stupid to be interested in matters of real weight.

    “Folks”? Would you prefer ‘people’? What’s it freakin’ matter? Both words work just as well.

    As for being one of the Oxbridge crowd you couldn’t be more mistaken – I’m an ex-council estate, bog standard comp, lad.

  33. ForeignRedTory

    Which is of course exactly why income not out of work should be hard-capped at 25K.

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