“There are 400,000 fewer children in poverty than there were in 2010.”

Boris Johnson, BBC Andrew Marr Show

December 1, 2019

Facts

On The Andrew Marr Show the Prime Minister made the comment “There are 400,000 fewer children in poverty than there were in 2010.”

To fair to the prime minister, measuring poverty is complicated.  This is explained by the Office for Statistics Regulation as follows: “There is no wrong measure [of poverty] but there is a wrong way of using the available measures – and that is to pick and choose which statistics to use based on what best suits the argument you happen to be making.”

The Prime Minister did not say what measure of poverty he was referring to when he used the term “children in poverty.”  However there is no recognised single measure which tallies with Boris Johnson’s claim on the Andrew Marr Show that there were “400,000 fewer children in poverty” than in 2010. 

The fact checking service Full Fact provides a summary of estimated changes in UK child poverty using three different metrics with data provided by the Social Metrics Commission. None of this data aligns with the statement that “there are 400,000 fewer children in poverty than there were in 2010.”

On 27th July 2020 the OSR responded to a complaint sent on behalf of the End Child Poverty Coalition citing the same quote from the Prime Minister saying: “Our team has investigated the statements which you highlight (and has reached the same conclusion that these statements are incorrect)”.

Verdict

Boris Johnson made a false claim about child poverty on the Andrew Marr show in an interview just over a week before the general election. Andrew Marr did not challenge him on the figure. The Prime Minister’s fabricated statistic was later called out as incorrect by Ed Humpherson, the head of the Office for Statistics Regulation. Boris Johnson has habitually made false and misleading statements concerning child poverty. LINK TO OTHER EXAMPLES. One example might be an innocent error, but the Prime Minister has misled voters about the Conservative government record on poverty on so many occasions and in so many different contexts that it is reasonable to assert that he is deliberately misleading British voters - in other words lying - on the subject. 

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