POLITICS

David Cameron Rebuked Over 'Myth' Foreign Workers Take Most UK Jobs

18/08/2014 17:48 BST | Updated 18/08/2014 17:59 BST
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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks at the Relationships Alliance Summit 2014 at the Royal College of GPs in London, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. Earlier David Cameron insisted the Government has a "fully worked through" strategy to tackle Islamic State (IS) extremists after Britain's role in Iraq moved beyond humanitarian aid. The Prime Minister stressed troops would not get involved in another war in the troubled country - but argued that limited action was needed to prevent violence. (AP Photo/Daniel Leal-Olivas, Pool)

David Cameron has been rebuked by the government's statistics watchdog for claiming that foreign workers take "most new jobs" in Britain.

The Prime Minister made the contentious claim in an article for the Daily Telegraph boasting about how the coalition's immigration changes are helping build a "different kind of Britain".

He wrote: "Progress is being made: while most new jobs used to go to foreign workers, in the past year more than three quarters have gone to British workers."

However Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, said that it was impossible to conclude from official figures how many new jobs are taken by native Britons or foreign workers.

Sir Andrew pointed out that figures from the Office for National Statistics show only that native Britons made up 76% of the increase in the number of people in work over the same period. "These official statistics do not show the number of 'new jobs'," he wrote.

"The number of people in employment and the number of jobs in the economy are not the same. One person may have more than one job, and some jobs may be shared by more than one person."

"From the available official statistics, it is therefore not possible to estimate the number of new jobs, nor the number of new jobs that are filled by UK nations, nor the number of new jobs that are filled by non UK nationals."

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, who made the complaint, welcomed the Statistics Authority's conclusion that "the Prime Minister was wrong".

He told the Huffington Post UK: "The myth that most new jobs go to foreign workers, or went to them in the past, has been debunked many times, and the Prime Minister should have known better than to repeat it.

"I am very glad that Sir Andrew Dilnot has stated clearly that the Prime Minister was wrong, and I hope that he and others will not misuse official statistics again in this way."

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This is not the first time Cameron has been reprimanded over his usage of official statistics, after last year being rebuked for claiming that the government was "paying down Britain's debts".

Sir Andrew Dilnot confirmed that public sector net debt has risen from £811bn in 2010 when the coalition took office to £1.1tn at the end of last year, and asked Cameron to avoid muddling the two terms.

"It is clearly important for all parties to public debate in this area to understand the relevant statistical definitions and to distinguish changes in the level of debt outstanding from changes in borrowing per period, and to reflect these in their communication of the statistical trends involved," he wrote.

The shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, said at the time: "It is hugely embarrassing for David Cameron that he has had to have the difference between borrowing and debt explained to him by the chair of the UK Statistics Authority.

"Now that his false claims have been exposed, it's time the prime minister stopped deliberately misleading people about his economic record."

Cameron and then health secretary Jeremy Hunt were rebuked by the statistics watchdog in 2012 for claiming that spending on the NHS had increased.