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Coffee House

Two versions of Osborne’s benefits speech

2 April 2013

2:12 PM

2 April 2013

2:12 PM

The Times’ Sam Coates picked up on a couple of discrepancies between the text of George Osborne’s Morrisons speech sent out by CCHQ, and the one published by the Treasury. Here’s the CCHQ text:

‘In 2010 alone, payments to working age families cost £75 billion. That means about one in every seven pounds of tax that working people like you pay was going on working age benefits.’

But the Treasury version reads:

‘In 2010 alone, payments to working age families cost £90 billion. That means about one in every six pounds of tax that working people like you pay was going on working age benefits.’

[Alt-Text]


Osborne actually delivered the Treasury version, and that does seem to be the more accurate one. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ Green Budget, spending on working-age benefits and tax credits — in 2012-13 prices — totalled £98 billion in 2009-10 and £100 billion in 2010-11. In cash terms, that works out at £92 billion and £97 billion respectively.

And according to the Treasury’s figures, public sector current receipts were £513 billion in 2009-10, meaning that about £1 in every £5.50 was spent on working-age benefits. In 2010-11, receipts were £551 billion, so it was £1 in every £5.70. If you look at just tax and national insurance receipts, working-age benefit spending works out at more like £1 in every £5.30.

It seems CCHQ sent out the text as it appeared before Osborne’s fact-checkers got to work.

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