Statistics watchdog slams ‘misleading’ Treasury tax cut claims

“I suspect that the public are more likely to have been misled – or at least confused – by Ms Trott’s statements..."


Once again Tory ministers have been peddling untruths and making misleading claims and once again they’ve been slapped down by the official statistics watchdog.

In the latest incident, the independent UK Statistics Authority has rebuked two Treasury ministers over recent claims on tax cuts for average earners. Sir Robert Chote, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, said the public could have been “misled – or at least confused” by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott’s claim to MPs in November that “taxes for the average worker will have gone down by £1,000 since 2010”.

In a letter published on Monday, Sir Robert wrote: “I suspect that the public are more likely to have been misled – or at least confused – by Ms Trott’s statements, both of which would probably suggest to a typical listener that the average worker’s overall tax bill has fallen in cash terms.”

The £1000 figure cited by Trott is misleading because it is based on an estimate of the average tax bill if personal thresholds had increased in line with inflation since 2010, however thresholds have been frozen by the Tories, pulling people into higher tax brackets.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Bim Afolami, was also criticised for saying that “taxes are coming down”. Sir Robert said that he “was not as explicit… as he could have been” that a separate claim that “taxes are coming down” made on the BBC’s Today programme in January referred solely to a £450 National Insurance cut.

Under the Tories the tax burden is at its highest since the Second World War.

It’s not the first time that the statistics watchdog has had to correct false claims made by the Tories.

In January, the UK Statistics Authority, criticised Rishi Sunak over his assertions that the asylum backlog in Britain has been ‘cleared’, which was factually incorrect.

Sir Robert warned that the claim could further erode trust in the government and voters may feel they have been ‘misled.’

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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