UK

David Cameron's 'Unofficial' Migration Stats On EU Migrants Rubbished By Experts

10/11/2015 09:43 GMT | Updated 10/11/2015 15:59 GMT

David Cameron has been accused of making "curious adjustments" to figures he is citing today while calling for a curb on migrant benefits as part of Britain's renegotiation with the EU.

The Prime Minister made a speech on Tuesday morning putting pressure on other European premiers to offer a four-year benefit ban on EU migrants, but was taken to task by both economists and journalists for the source of some non-ONS-vetted stats.

Sam Coates, the Times' deputy political editor, penned a story in advance of this morning's address, which included claims by the PM that 43 per cent of EU migrants rely on the support of Britain's benefit system during their first four years of residence.

That figure was qualified by Downing Street in a note to journalists, but many took contention with the methodology of it - pointing out that it excluded international students, who themselves are included in the government's own net migration measurement.

Some 125,300 of these were classed in 2013/14 as 'EU migrants' by the Home Office, but are excluded from the figure touted by Downing Street today of 148,000, of whom it was claimed 66 per cent receive tax credits and other in-work benefits.

Coates posted a picture of the defended methodology behind Downing Street's newly-released numbers ahead of the speech today.

Several of Fleet Street's finest and economists on social media piled in to rebuke Number 10 for not having the figures vetted by the official Office for National Statistics.

Jonathan Portes, a Senior Fellow at the National Institute of Social and Economic Research, claimed Cameron's stats were "impossible for me/ [the] Migration Observatory to verify".

A Press Association reporter, James Tapsfield, also weighed in, commenting: "Put 'DWP' and 'data' in the same sentence and you can pretty much guarantee there's going to be trouble."

Other social media users, including BBC Newsnight's Chris Cook, also queried whether it was now Government policy to exclude students from migration data, given the Home Office includes them instead.

The Guardian's Patrick Wintour used diplomatic language and said the figures had been subject to "some curious adjustments and sources".

Boris Johnson visit to Israel


READ MORE: