Fact checkers had to set the record straight
Oliver Dowden stood in for Rishi Sunak today and he will be again next week, throwing into further scrutiny the prime minister’s terrible PMQs attendance record.
Facing Angela Rayner, Dowden threw his defences of the Tory party’s record at the House, however his claims have come under scrutiny from multiple angles for being incorrect and misleading.
Full Fact, the campaigns team of independent fact checkers, issued two corrections following the PMQs today. Firstly, was a claim by Dowden that the NHS waiting lists are ‘coming down’. Whilst some waiting lists, such as patients waiting over 18 months for a treatment, have fallen, the overall number of cases of waiting in England are at a record high.
Rishi Sunak has also attempted to make this claim along with other official government announcements, which is hard to swallow when official statistics put the number of cases for consultant-led treatment at 7.42 million at the end of April..
Awkwardly for them, this morning health minister Maria Caulfield said that NHS waiting lists could go up even further. No. 10 has since said that cutting long waiting times will take priority over cutting the NHS waiting list.
Secondly the fact checkers pulled up on another claim made by Dowden that the government had been ‘cutting taxes’ for national living wage earners by doubling the personal allowance.
Citing a similar claim made by the deputy prime minster last month, where he said minimum wage earners had seen a £1,000 reduction in their tax, the campaign organisation highlighted that on both occasions this was potentially misleading as Dowden failed to make it clear that this was based on a counterfactual estimate.
Whilst minimum wage earners are paying less tax this year than they would have since 2010 if tax thresholds had gone up in line with inflation, that doesn’t mean the amount they pay has actually decreased compared to 2010.
Labour MP Lisa Nandy also took to Twitter to fact check the deputy MP on two points. First was his claim that his government had built more council houses, which she referenced to an article which cites official government data showing how 161,577 social rent homes had been completed since 2010. Compared to 362,912 between 1997 and 2010.
Next the deputy PM said that, under his government, record numbers of housing had been being built.
Nandy referred to figures this year that showed planning application in England had actually fallen to their lowest level in at least 16 years.
Furthermore, the Home Builders Federation has predicted England’s housebuilding levels will soon fall to their lowest since the second world war. So not sure how he justifies that one?
To round it off, the Deputy PM was called out during points of order refereeing to a claim he make on the 7th June, when he said the Labour Party’s plan to invest £28 billion in green energy would add £1,000 more to people’s mortgages. Dowden apparently made the claim a day after the Daily Mail reported this figure, but he said it came from treasury analysis.
However, the treasury has admitted that the figure did not come from their analysis and was forced to make the admission that this was not true. The statistics authority was unable to find any official source for the figure after investigation. Another lie then.
Hannah Davenport is trade union reporter at Left Foot Forward