Dear Anna,

Chancellor’s use of poverty statistics on BBC Breakfast

Thank you for your letter of 13 August about statements made by Ministers on levels of poverty.

The UK Statistics Authority has recently responded to a similar query from Bridget Phillipson MP on this matter where the Authority Chair repeated our view that there are legitimate reasons to use different measures of poverty, which are highlighted in our review of income-based poverty statistics and in a blog post.

Our role is to make sure that public debates are well informed by accurate, impartial and objective statistics, and not ourselves to become a player in those debates. For that reason, we distinguish between statements that use or draw directly from statistics from those that make broader assertions about the success or impact of policy, and do not consider it appropriate for us to comment on the latter.

It is of course important to public understanding that statements should be clear about the measure and time period being referred to, particularly where other measures present a different trend, and we have reiterated this point to HM Treasury in the context of poverty statistics.

Yours sincerely,

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation