The prime minister ignores ONS warnings to 'adopt more cautious wording'
David Cameron told the Telegraph today that the introduction of the £26,000 annual benefits cap caused a ‘stampede to the job centre’, as people were discouraged from a life of benefits.
He pledged further reforms of the welfare system, including reducing the cap to £23,000. He said that the new policy would pay for three million apprenticeships and give everybody ‘the chance to make the most of their God-given talents.’
On 17 December 2014, a letter from Sir Andrew Dilnot to Jonathan Portes revealed the UK Statistics Authority’s opinion that:
“The available numerical evidence does not demonstrate a particularly strong causal link between the benefit cap and the decisions made by individuals about moving into work.”
Criticising the methodology that the DWP had used in their own research into the link, the Authority added that:
“The research also focused predominantly on people still affected by the benefit cap, rather than those no longer affected by it. Of the 12 per cent of those surveyed who said they were no longer affected by the benefit cap, 41 per cent said that this was because they or someone in their household had found a job.
“We conclude that it would be reasonable to argue that these findings are consistent with some people moving into work because of the benefit cap, but they do not demonstrate clear causality. As a result, our view is it might have been more appropriate to adopt more cautious wording in the press statement.”
Cameron clearly didn’t get this memo.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.