11/06/2012 02:00 BST | Updated 11/06/2012 16:52 BST

Labour's Jack Dromey Writes To Statistics Chief Over Grant Shapps

Grant Shapps stands accused of misleading the media, the public, and parliament about the extent of the housing crisis by Labour after his shadow Jack Dromey wrote to the head of the UK Statistics Authority in a letter seen by The Huffington Post UK.

The letter, sent at 6am on Monday morning, raises questions over housing minister Shapps' use of statistics to obscure the depth of the housing crisis.

Dromey asks UK stats chief Andrew Dilnot about alleged misrepresentations by Shapps about the supply of homes between 1997-2010, affordable homes built in the last 18 years, rough sleeping, the cost of self-builds, and the number of houses being built in the UK.

In one case, Shapps told parliament the number of houses starting to be built in England were rising by 25% 2011 compared to 2009, despite government statistics showing annual housing starts were down 4% in 2011 from the previous year.

"I am deeply concerned that this casual attitude to accuracy is not only confusing to the public but it is obstructing genuine public debate. Furthermore, it undermines legitimate calls for real action to deals with our nation's housing and homelessness crisis," he writes.

A Labour source told The Huffington Post UK that if Shapps were found to be misusing statistics it would be a breach of the ministerial code.

Shapps has previously been rebuked by the stats watchdog's former head Sir Michael Scholar, who suggested he submit a request for official statistics prodded by government agencies to be examined by the authority.

The housing minister said in March 2012 his department was "mindful at all times of the need to guarantee the independence not only of our own official statistics but also those produced by the public bodies we sponsor."

Shadow communities secretary Hilary Benn said: "The ministerial code requires ministers to be accurate in using statistics. It is because we have concerns about the way in which Grant Shapps has been using housing statistics that Jack Dromey has taken the decision to refer the matter to the UK Statistics Authority."