Channel 4 highlights Osborne’s ‘grossly misleading claims on investment’

Faisal Islam at Channel 4 Factcheck claims to have witnessed "the most egregious statistical chicanery...in a Treasury fiscal event in 13 years of covering economics for newspapers and TV".

Faisal Islam at Channel 4 Factcheck claims to have witnessed “the most egregious statistical chicanery…in a Treasury fiscal event in 13 years of covering economics for newspapers and TV”.

What is he so excised about? Have a look at this:

‘I was quite shocked to hear the chancellor claim that investment spending would be £50bn. This would be fiscal stimulus territory. I got some return tweets about PSGI: “Public Sector Gross Investment”. Then the chancellor talked of £300bn of investment. That too sounded quite high. Again it was gross investment.

‘The traditional standard measure of government investment spending is “net investment” which accounts for depreciation on the government’s giant stock of capital. It is the way government investment has been measured for decades.

‘So it was a bit cheeky, a little cute, for the chancellor to switch measures for his speech. This is clearly part of an effort to communicate a narrative of “investing in growth” as we go “from rescue to recovery”. The real numbers would have to wait until the fiscal documentation was published.

‘Alas it was nowhere to be seen. The only reference to net investment was as a footnote to a table about the impact of the Royal Mail pension. Nothing. Nada. Gone. Erased. PSGI is now the only measure, and it has the happy side effect of sounding bigger.

‘However you can compare PSGI announced today to PSGI in March in the OBR’s table. Miraculously those numbers are idenitical to the number’s published today. Actually that’s not quite right: this year PSGI is £100m less than forecast by OBR in March. So, officially, capital investment by government has been CUT. That’s not the impression you would get from the chancellor’s speech.’

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