UK Statistics Watchdog Rebukes Treasury Ministers Over Tax Cut Claims

UK Statistics Watchdog Rebukes Treasury Ministers Over Tax Cut Claims

19 Feb    Finance News, News

The chair of the UK’s statistics watchdog, Sir Robert Chote, has issued a scathing rebuke to two Treasury ministers regarding recent assertions on tax cuts for average earners, citing concerns over potential public confusion or misinformation.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott faced criticism after claiming in November that “taxes for the average worker will have gone down £1,000 since 2010.” Sir Robert warned that such statements risked misleading or confusing the public, clarifying that the claim did not accurately reflect the overall tax burden since 2010. Instead, it compared the average tax bill in 2024-25 to what it would have been if thresholds had risen in line with inflation since 2010.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Bim Afolami also received reproach for not explicitly stating in a separate claim that taxes are coming down, which referred solely to a £450 National Insurance cut. Sir Robert emphasized the importance of clarity, urging ministers to consider how their statements might be understood by the public.

This rebuke follows previous instances where ministerial claims about the economy have been challenged by the UK Statistics Authority. In December, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s assertion that the government has reduced debt faced scrutiny, as debt has been rising as a proportion of the economy.

Labour seized upon the watchdog’s criticism, with Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Darren Jones calling the verdict on Laura Trott’s comments “damning.” Jones emphasized the burden faced by working people, highlighting the need for transparency and accuracy in government communications regarding taxation.

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The exchange underscores the importance of clear and accurate communication from government officials, particularly on matters as sensitive as taxation and economic policy. As public trust in government statistics and statements remains paramount, ensuring clarity and honesty in messaging is essential for maintaining credibility and accountability.

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