Johnson dismissed by watchdog over UC claim

During a PMQ’s session, the PM claimed that 200,000 people had already found jobs because of the benefit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

A comment made by the Boris Johnson about the number of people who are in employment as a result of Universal Credit has been confirmed to be incorrect by the UK Statistics Authority.

The Prime Minister claimed in January that 200,000 people had already found jobs because of the benefit during a session of PMQ’s after being challenged over its effect on poverty.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood, who sought to fact-check the statement, has now called on Johnson to apologise for his claim which she said was “simply wrong”.

Johnson made the comment after Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn claimed the welfare programme was increasing poverty.

“Universal Credit has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs,” Johnson said.

“Contrary to what [Corbyn] says, the number of people in poverty has diminished by 400,000 under this government and wages have been increasing solidly for the last 22 months”, he added.

In a letter to the prime minister, the watchdog’s chairman Sir David Norgrove confirmed the figure was an estimate, rather than for “the effect so far”.

The jobs figure, estimated to be achieved by 2024/25, was made by the DWP in its 2018 business case for UC.

It has already been questioned by the National Audit Office, which concluded the department would “never be able to measure” the impact on employment.

“It cannot isolate the effect of universal credit from other economic factors in increasing employment,” the NAO concluded in a 2018 review.

As reported by 24housing, the NAO have also questioned the extent of benefit claimant suicides saying the 69 cases investigated by the DWP over the past six years could be a fraction of the total number.

The report noted that although the DWP regards the investigations as a way to improve the safety and quality of its services – it also admits it has no idea whether lessons from the reviews are ever implemented.

It follows an investigation into the DWP was launched last year by NAO after the former Commons Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field reported that the DWP had refused to answer his requests for information on the numbers of suicide-related deaths, saying it would be “too expensive” to gather the information.

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