"The actions of this government and previous Conservative governments over the last ten years have meant there are over a million people fewer living in poverty today".

Rishi Sunak, BBC

March 20, 2022

Facts

When the BBC's Sophie Raworth challenged Rishi Sunak about why the government was contributing to the cost of living crisis with its National Insurance rise, the Chancellor replied: "The actions of this government and previous Conservative governments over the last ten years have meant there are over a million people fewer living poverty today".

This is correct if you look at absolute poverty levels. In 2010/11 (when the Tories went into coalition with the Lib Dems) there were 13.5 million people living in absolute poverty in the UK (according to UK Gov statistics). By the period ending 2020 (the latest figures) this has dropped to 12.3 million (still an incredibly high number).This means that the number of people in poverty (by Sunak's definition) has fallen by 1.2 million.

However, these figures do not represent the reality faced by people in the UK, as relative poverty - the more commonly used measure of poverty - is increasing. In 2010, 21% of people in the UK were in relative poverty. By 2020 this was up to 22% of people.

Verdict

Rishi Sunak was selective in his answer, meaning that he is open to the charge that he misled BBC viewers.

We approached Rishi Sunak’s office to give him a chance to comment, but received no response. When we approached the Treasury for comment, a spokesperson questioned our credentials as a “bona fide media outlet.”

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