Statistics boss refuses to condemn Shapps
The chair of the UK Statistics Authority has supported housing minister Grant Shapps’ use of figures, in response to a complaint made by shadow housing minister Jack Dromey.
In a letter sent on Friday Andrew Dilnot states ‘ministers often want to present… statistical information in ways that best serve their political objectives’.
Mr Dromey raised six instances of ‘misrepresentation and misuse’ of figures in his letter, which was sent last month.
On the first point, which concerns claims about the decline in the number of homes built under the Labour Government, Mr Dilnot backs Mr Dromey’s claim that the number of homes in England increased by two million under Labour, but notes the minister was referring to ‘affordable homes’, where there was a decline.
On the second point, which covers claims by the minister that more homes would be built under the coalition government than Labour, Mr Dilnot is clearer. Here he says 557,000 affordable homes were added under Labour over 13 years, and the coalition government is only expected to deliver 270,000. However he also notes the Labour homes were not necessarily new builds, and ‘some uncertainty’ is associated with estimates of future home delivery.
On a range of other points Mr Dilnot also either stops short of criticising Mr Shapps’ use of figures, or confirms that the data was accurate.
Politicians continued to debate the figures in parliament during Communities and Local Government department questions yesterday, despite the letter.
Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn accused the government of having ‘a bit of a problem when it comes to statistics’. Mr Shapps did not respond to the criticism despite being present during the debate.