Defending his plan to cut £20 a week from universal credit payments to poorer households on BBC News, Rishi Sunak cited the record of the Conservative government in ensuring that “the number of people in poverty had fallen” in the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic.
While it is true that the absolute poverty level fell from 16 to 14 per cent between 2012 and 2020, the proportion of people living in relative poverty rose steadily in these years from 15 to 18 per cent.
Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, there has been an increase of 1.5 million people who live in relative poverty, after housing costs, across the country. The number of children living in relative poverty has been steadily rising over recent years, with the figure standing at 4.2 million in the latest data.
According to the Independent, Rishi Sunak was reported to the UK’s statistics watchdog over the comments.
His failure to mention the relative poverty figure meant that Rishi Sunak was not telling the whole truth. His comments were therefore misleading. When we offered Mr Sunak the chance to comment on this verdict he did not reply. The Chancellor’s comments echo a series of false and misleading remarks by Boris Johnson on the subject of poverty. See examples here, here and here