A quarter of eastern Europeans pay just £1 a week net in income tax despite being in work, claimed the Telegraph. The paper has now admittted that that claim was wrong.
“A quarter of eastern Europeans pay just £1 a week net in income tax despite being in work,” the Telegraph boomed in a piece which appeared in the paper at the end of last month.
The article’s shocking headline was based on research by the anti-immigration think tank Migration Watch, which claimed that up to a quarter of eastern European workers were paying “virtually no direct taxes”, as Migration Watch chairman Sir Andrew Green put it.
The article (and the ‘research’) was supposed to refute the notion that eastern Europeans were hard workers who made a significant contribution to the tax pot.
“Recent claims that EU migrants make a ‘very sizeable’ contribution to the Exchequer have simply not taken into account that the low incomes of so many mean that they receive much more in means-tested benefits than they pay in tax,” Green added.
Except that since the article first went up on 30 April, a very interesting addition has appeared at the foot of the piece. Scroll down the page, and you will see the following:
“This article has been amended since it was first posted. The original reported MigrationWatch saying that a quarter of eastern European workers, around 150,000 people, on the minimum wage pay £1 a week in net tax. However, other data in MigrationWatch’s analysis says that some people – childless couples where both partners earn the minimum wage – will in fact be paying more. The article has therefore been amended to reflect this.”
So to put it bluntly, the original claim that “a quarter of Eastern Europeans pay just £1 a week net in income tax despite being in work” – the premise upon which the entire Telegraph piece was based – is rubbish, nonsense, and by the paper’s own admission, untrue. As the correction states:
“childless couples where both partners earn the minimum wage – will in fact be paying more”.
A quarter of eastern Europeans will not be paying just £1 a week net in income tax. Many of them “will in fact be paying more”.
It’s just a shame we had to revisit the article almost three weeks after it first went up to get some clarification on the matter – and even then the correction is barely visible at the foot of the page.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.