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Boris Johnson accused of lying about the employment impact of Universal Credit

PM wrongly claimed that Universal Credit has already helped 200,000 people back into work.

Boris Johnson has been slapped down by the UK Statistics Authority after he wrongly claimed that Universal Credit has helped 200,000 people back into work.

The Prime Minister was confronted by a series of questions on Universal Credit during PMQ’s on 22 January, including a question from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on the effectiveness of the new benefits system in getting people back into work.

In response, Boris Johnson claimed that “Universal Credit has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs” – a claim that has been disputed by opposition parties.

Jobcentre Plus sign.

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secreatry, Margaret Greenwood MP, wrote to the UK Statistics Authority asking if the PM’s claim can be substantiated.

“As Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I am writing to express my concern that the Prime Minister’s claim that ‘Universal Credit has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs’ is misleading”, writes Ms Greenwood.

“The National Audit Office (NAO) examined that claim in its report, Rolling Out Universal Credit,” says Greenwood.

“It said that the ‘Department (DWP) expects that Universal Credit will get an additional 200,000 people into work’.

“However, it added that: ‘The Department says it cannot measure whether it is acheving 200,000 additional people in work because of Universal Credit.

“This is because it cannot isolate the effect of Universal Credit from other economic factors in increasing employment’.”

Margaret Greenwood MP.

Greenwood concludes: “I am concerned that an expectation by the Department for Work and Pensions that Universal Credit would result in 200,000 more people in work by the time that is has been fully rolled out appears to have been translated by the Prime Minister into something that has already happened.”

Related: Universal Credit roll-out delayed again, because people are too “scared” to claim it

In response to Ms Greenwood’s letter, Sir David Norgrove from the UK Statistics Authority says: “Thank you for your letter of 24 January about the Prime Minister’s remarks regarding Universal Credit during Prime Minister’s Questions on 22 January.

“You asked the UK Statistics Authority to investigate the claim that “Universal Credit has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs”.

“As you say, the 200,000 figure represents the Department for Work and Pensions’ estimate of the predicted impact on employment once Universal Credit is fully rolled out rather than the effect so far.”

The UK Statistics Authority says it has forwarded a copy of its response to Ms Greenwood’s letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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