We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Boris Johnson simply cannot help telling lies and claimed 400,000 fewer children were living in poverty

July 31, 2020 7:00 PM

Focus on Poverty in Britain


The lies, falsehoods and misrepresentations of Boris Johnson and his government are well documented. Boris' own dossier of lies over many years continues to grow by the the day. Death, hunger, poverty the subject of his lies are endless - nothing phases Boris Johnson.

Whether it is his claims about protecting care homes during the early days of the pandemic, feigning ignorance about a footballer's campaign about the free school meal voucher scheme or claiming that child poverty levels have come down under his government, Boris Johnson simply cannot help telling lies. There is a medical term for the condition of pathological lying; it is known as mythomania. The trouble is that the public perception of politicians and a largely friendly Press means he keeps telling lies and getting away with them

Asked to comment by the BBC, Downing Street pointed to a previous statement made by the PM, in which he said that "as of December" there were "740,000 fewer children living in a household where no one works".

The Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) however said some of the figures he has quoted to back this claim up are incorrect. The OSR, which is the regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority watchdog, was responding to a complaint from the End Child Poverty Coalition.

The Coalition highlighted three instances when the prime minister made what it described as "misleading" statements.

These were:

  • Mr Johnson's claim on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on 1 December 2019 that there "are 400,000 fewer children in poverty than there were in 2010"

  • His statement at PMQs on 17 June that "absolute poverty and relative poverty have both declined under this government" and "there are hundreds of thousands, I think 400,000, fewer families living in poverty now than there were in 2010"

  • Mr Johnson's claim at PMQs on 24 June, in which he said that "there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty and 500,000 fewer children falling below thresholds of low income and material deprivation".

    In a letter to the OSR, the End Child Poverty Coalition chairwoman Anna Feuchtwang said: "It cannot be right that official figures on something as fundamental as how many children are in poverty continue to be used selectively, inaccurately and, ultimately, misleadingly." She added, "It is deeply insulting to the children and families swept into poverty when data about them is used selectively and misleadingly at the whim of politicians". 'The simple fact is that by any measures child poverty is rising but instead of tackling the problem the government risks obscuring the issue and misinforming the public. "The lives of real people are at stake and we need consistent use of information and urgent action."

    Responding to the complaints set out in the letter, Ed Humpherson, director-general for regulation at the statistics authority, said: "Our team has investigated the statements which you highlight (and has reached the same conclusion that these statements are incorrect)."

Meanwhile the latest figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions show:

The high cost of housing in the UK is pushing more working families over the poverty line.

A record 2.9 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty after housing costs have been paid.

70% of all poor children were in working families last year, up from 67% on the previous year, official statistics show.

The face of child poverty is also getting younger with 53% of poor children aged under five,

The National Housing Federation (NHF) calculate, nearly a third more children - or 193,000 - are now living in such meagre circumstances because of spiralling rents and mortgage costs, compared with 2010.

The government said that tackling poverty was its priority.



BBC News: 30 July 2020 'PM's child poverty claims 'inaccurate,' says statistics watchdog'

BBC's Reality Check team has also found inaccuracies in the PM's statements on child poverty, and was unable to find any evidence for his claim that there are 400,000 fewer families living in poverty than in 2010.

OSR Office for Statistics Regulation

Child Poverty Coalition

Dept of Work and Pensions:

BBC News: A record 2.9 million children from working families in the UK are living in poverty