During a heated Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday 25 October, Theresa May made some bold claims about the last Labour government. But one salvo she fired at Jeremy Corbyn caught the eye of a fact-checking website. And it swiftly debunked the smear as being completely false.
May should be ashamed
May was responding to a question from Corbyn about Universal Credit. The Labour leader quoted a Conservative Welsh Assembly member as saying [0.42] Universal Credit is:
‘callous at best, and downright cruel at worst’ and concluded by saying she’s ‘ashamed of her government’.
Corbyn then asked [0.53]:
Can the Prime Minister ease her colleague’s shame by pausing and fixing Universal Credit?
Under Labour, the number of workless households doubled…
So FactCheck investigated. And it found May’s claim to be false.
May. Pants. Fire brigade. Quick.
What actually happened was the proportion of workless households fell under Labour. FactCheck noted that numbers fell:
from 19.8% in 1997 to 19.2% in 2010.
FactCheck also pointed out that the total number went up:
The number of workless households was about 3.7 million in April 1997 (when Labour took office) and 3.9 million when they left government in 2010.
That’s a rise of about 6.6% – rather more modest than the 100% increase Mrs May claims.
But this is not the first time the government has been rather loose with employment figures.
As The Canary previously reported, the Conservatives claimed in August that:
Under this Conservative Government, more people are in work than ever before pic.twitter.com/TlDbMpAcXh
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) August 16, 2017
But this is not strictly true. Because since the Conservatives first came to power, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that, based on employment figures for May-July 2010 [spreadsheet row 228] (the first data set with the Conservatives in coalition) compared to its latest release [spreadsheet row 311]:
- The total number of people in any kind of work has increased by 2,748,000 [spreadsheet column B]. But this breaks down as an additional 1,991,000 ’employees’ [column C], of which 1.7 million more are full-time ’employees’ [spreadsheet column I].
- The number of full-time self-employed people has increased by nearly half a million [spreadsheet column K], and part-time by 342,000 [column L].
- The number of workers having to take second jobs has only marginally decreased by 19,000 [spreadsheet column M].
- 35,000 more people are on temporary training contracts [spreadsheet column S].
- There are 10,000 more unpaid family workers [spreadsheet column E].
Well, well, well
The ONS also noted that some of the increase in employment, and decrease in economically inactive people, was:
largely due to ongoing changes to the State Pension age for women resulting in fewer women retiring between the ages of 60 and 65.
So the reality of the Conservatives’ claim of three million more people in work is actually quite different. Because although two thirds of employment growth since May 2010 is in full-time employment, the rest is made up of self-employed roles, temporary contracts, and people working for free.
It seems that, as well as twisting the truth about Labour’s record in office, the Conservatives will happily manipulate their own.
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