Government bases policy on Daily Mail web archive

In the speech for his slash-and-burn budget, George Osborne said that ‘there are some families receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit’. My roving Budget 2010 satirical eye has noticed that the government have quietly admitted that this figure was not based on actual case studies but on potential rates.

The Guardian rang the DWP to check this out. A spokeswoman said that: ‘It is what the rate would be… We don’t have any figures on how many people are claiming that rate.’ The story continues:

However, she added that a search of the Daily Mail and the Sun newspaper websites would throw up stories of people being paid the same if not more.

Case closed!

Also, read Alastair Campbell on this:

In this era of Freedom of Information, surely if such sums were being paid in such a controversial benefit, we would know how many, where they lived and who they were.

But the same spokeswoman admits the £104,000 is based on what a family who were housed in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the wealthiest parts of the UK, WOULD receive IF they were given a five bedroomed home. In other words the chances are there are no such families taking £104,000 at all.

In a weird form of mitigation the spokeswoman says that whilst they have no records of such large claims (we are only the government, eh?) a search of the websites of the Sun and the Daily Mail would ‘throw up stories of people being paid the same if not more.’

The Chancellor made an eye-catching claim, one that will be used to justify major cuts, without any government knowledge that such a claim was justified, beyond reports published on the websites of two tabloid newspapers not best known for their objectivity. Interesting approach to communication of major policy decisions.

(Thanks to Dan and Dan)

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