Government skewed statistics

Tory Maths: UK Government Statistics Don’t Add Up

Independent fact-checking charity FullFact have raised questions about a new Home Office claim that states the proposed changes to immigration will see a reduction in so-called ‘unskilled’ EU migration by 90,000.

FullFact assessed the Government’s claim and found that the number of ‘unskilled’ EU migrants is currently lower than 90,000, therefore it cannot be cut by 90,000 unless the Government will be implementing any changes to its new policies.

Economics Professor Jonathan Portes – and advocate for statistical truth in an era of anti-migrant hostility and imagined numbers- pointed out that the total migration of EU workers to the UK in latest figures is indeed 90,000, but this figure accounts for ‘skilled’ and ‘unskilled’ EU workers as opposed to just ‘unskilled’.

Government skewed statistics
This wouldn’t be the first time the Government skewed statistics in their favour. [Image: CCNMoney].

“You can’t reduce 57,500 by 90,000”


The Government must make it clear whether its figure refers to all EU migrants, regardless of the assessment of their skills.

The original figures published in The Sunday Times state that the decrease of 90,000 is in relation to ‘unskilled EU migrants’ who will “no longer have a route into Britain.”

As FullFact reported in their analysis: “If there are only 90,000 EU migrants coming to the UK for work and roughly 32,500 (half of 65,000) are skilled, then around 57,500 must be unskilled. You can’t reduce 57,500 by 90,000.”

Professor Portes confirmed migrants are assessed as skilled or unskilled when applying for a work visa, but migration from the EU to the UK for studying purposes or to join family members in Britain is not accounted for in the figures.

Portes also said that the Government isn’t necessarily reporting ‘incorrect’ figures but what it is doing is using out of date data that is no longer relevant. Such a tactic suggests Government and media outlets which favour the Conservatives are fully aware that the idea of a relatively large decrease in immigration, particularly of alleged ‘unskilled’ workers, will appease those who keen to see immigration to the UK reduced.  

The Home Office is yet to rectify its mathematical mistakes. [Image: e-flux conversations].

The Home Office’s response was rather robotic as opposed to addressing the concerns of poor mathematical conclusions and spurious correlations

So, in terms of accuracy, if the new laws are to reduce EU migration by 90,000 it must consider every single instance of EU migration and not just work-related migration.

The Home Office’s response was rather robotic as opposed to addressing the concerns of poor mathematical conclusions and spurious correlations, stating: “We will deliver on the people’s priorities by introducing a points-based immigration system from 2021 to attract the brightest and best talent from around the world while cutting low-skilled immigration and bringing overall numbers down.”

Such a statement does not address the incorrect data or provide an adequate answer for it, leading to a reasonable inference that the Government does not know its own proposed figures. Others are considering that the Tories’ mental mathematical gymnastics lands so far from the mark that it must be deliberate. There is a significant likelihood that these statistics are soundbites to appeal to voters who hold harsher stances on immigration. And it wouldn’t be the first time the Tories have wheeled out this skewed methodology.

Basic statistical analysis has revealed that the data is not correct. As the Government has not confirmed that it is referring to more than just ‘unskilled’ EU workers, there is no resolution to the matter.

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