The article refers to people living in benefit-capped households and quotes figures which has been revealed exclusively to the Daily Express, which show that ‘Mr Duncan Smith’s promise to “make work pay” is starting to change a culture where some lifelong layabouts viewed benefits as a limitless cash machine’.
Unfortunately for the Express, Iain Duncan Smith and DWP, these figures were published on the 3rd of October 2013 and are in the public domain:
What the official figures show is that out of 400,000 households affected by the benefit cap, people in 16,500 of those households had found a job.
16,500 sounds like a large number but it represents only 4% of the households affected by the cap. Hardly what can be described as a success.
In other words, these statistics show that 16,500 people potentially affected by the benefit cap found a job, but that does not mean that it was the benefit cap that forced these people to find work.
Some people in these capped households would have found work anyway, with or without the cap, so it is impossible to say from the statistics if the benefit cap had any effect.
In fact the official DWP statistics document emphasises this point and warns that “The statistics are not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of Jobcentre Plus support”.
So what has happened?
Is the Express lying when it claims it has been given exclusive access to these figures?
Or did DWP officials approach the newspaper promising an exclusive which was pure misinformation by manipulating the figures to promote their own agenda.
We don’t know. But one thing is for sure, this isn’t the first time that Duncan Smith and the DWP have been caught doing this.
In May this year, Iain Duncan Smith was strongly criticised by the UK Statistics Authority for making exactly the same misleading claim http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/may/09/iain-duncan-smith-benefits-cap-statistics
Another thing is for sure – Duncan Smith hasn’t heard the last of this.