It's just been drawn to my attention that Steve Reed, the Labour MP for Croydon North, is claiming that the number of people in Croydon who are in work and claiming Housing Benefit has increased by 1,100% under this Government. He seems to operate under the principle that if you are going to tell a porkie, tell a whopper.
Fortunately I am able to rebut this particular porkie pretty quickly because another Labour MP made a similar claim fairly recently (though over a slightly different timescale and relating to my constituency, rather than the whole borough). I was very sceptical about what she claimed (a similarly massive increase) so I asked the House of Commons Library. Below is their response verbatim:
We spoke earlier. Please find attached the available data on HB claimants in employment in Croydon:
The number of Housing Benefit claimants in employment and resident in the Croydon Central constituency has risen by 50% between Feb 2011 and Feb 2014 (from 2,810 to 4,203).
33% of HB claimants in your constituency are recorded as being in employment as of Feb 2014 (compared with 31% in London as a whole and 21% nationally).
I hope this helps - let us know if you need anything further.
Helpfully, they included a table showing the figures for every Parliamentary constituency so I can calculate the equivalent figures for Croydon as a whole. They are:
Feb 2011 8,552
Feb 2014 13,077
That an increase of 53%, a much more plausible figure. You can take a look at all the figures for yourself by downloading the file here.
It is worth pointing out that this increase is the result of three things:
- rents increasing;
- wages increasing by less than prices; and
- more people being in work than was the case under Labour (unemployment in Croydon is down by nearly 40%).
So not only is Steve using dodgy figures (he says his come from the House of Library too - let's see if he will publish the data and the advice he received with it verbatim as I have), but one of the factors behind the increase that has occurred is good news!
It is also worth observing that the last Labour Government significantly increased the number of working people receiving benefits or tax credits as a deliberate act of policy so it is in any case a strange attack for him to make.
Sadly, previous experience suggests Steve is quite happy to go on using these figures even when it has been demonstrated to him that they are false...