Benefits cap row: Iain Duncan Smith accused of relying on 'dodgy' statistics to justify household cut-off

 

Iain Duncan Smith was accused on Monday of relying on “dodgy” statistics to justify the Government’s  £26,000-a-year benefits cap for each household.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said that more than 12,000 people  had moved into work after being told about the £500-a-week cap for families and £350-a-week ceiling for single people.

Labour seized on the small print of a Department of Work and Pensions  progress report issued as the welfare cap, which has been trialled in four London boroughs, was rolled out nationally from on Monday. It said: “This analysis is confined to correlation and does not show causation”.

The qualifying statement follows a rebuke for Mr Duncan Smith’s previous claim about the number of people taking jobs as a result of the benefits ceiling. In May,  he was criticised by the independent UK Statistics Authority.

On Monday, his department cited a poll it commissioned by Ipsos MORI of 500 people who were told their state handouts  would be capped. The survey found that 61 per cent of the group now in work found their current job after being told about the cap. But critics said there was no proof that they would not have found work anyway or that the policy  was responsible. In Haringey, one of the trial areas, only 30 of the 734 claimants affected by the ceiling are said to be in work.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of  the  Child Poverty Action Group, said: “This polling only demonstrates the paucity of evidence for the benefit cap. [It] reflects the fact that most people hit by the cap have worked and will soon work again. It’s also unhelpful for public policy and quite misleading to the public  for the spin to run ahead of the facts through repeating dodgy claims about the effect of the policy on people moving into work when the evidence is clearly not there to back up these claims.”

Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “Iain Duncan Smith is having to make things up as he goes along because his policies are failing. Even the [DWP] report he hides behind makes absolutely clear that there is no evidence for his claims. It is simply incredible that the Work and Pensions Secretary thinks it is acceptable to operate his department on guess work and blind faith.” 

An unrepentant Mr Duncan Smith accused the BBC of “seeking out lots of cases from people who are politically motivated” . He clashed with  John Humphrys, presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, who reminded him of the Statistics Authority’s ticking off. Mr Duncan Smith replied: “No. What they [the Statistics Authority] said was that you can't absolutely prove that those two things are connected.”

Mr Humphrys then quoted the independent authority as saying the minister’s statement was "unsupported by the official statistics published by your own department". Mr Duncan Smith replied: “Yes, but by the way you can't disprove what I said either.”

You can make any claim on that basis,” Mr Humphrys replied.

“Well, I am. I believe this to be right. I believe that we are already seeing people go back to work who were not going to go back to work until they were short of the cap,” Mr Duncan Smith countered.

He told Mr Humphrys: “What you’re doing, as always in the BBC, you’re seeking out lots of cases from people who are politically motivated to say this is wrong ... The fact is that people will not be earning more than average earnings sitting out of work unless they are in exempt categories.”

The Work and Pensions Secretary claimed that predictions that the benefit cap would lead to thousands of people becoming homeless had not materialised. “The homeless figures have hardly moved at all,” he said.

He also rejected claims that the ceiling would force families to move out of London. “The vast majority of the areas in London – a third of all rentable accommodation in the private sector – is available for those who are on social rents,” he said.

But Ruth Davison, director of the  National Housing Federation, warned: “In many parts of the country, families won’t be able to pay high private rents because of the cap. There will be more demand for than ever for affordable housing, particularly in Greater London where nearly half (49 per cent) of the people affected by the benefit cap live.”

She added: “Families could face the stark choice of cutting back on essentials or having to move away long distances from their support networks to look for cheaper places to live. Until we see a long-term affordable housebuilding programme that will drive down the price of rents for everybody, housing costs should be removed from the cap.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone