Dear Laura

Use of official statistics on child poverty in Prime Minister’s Questions

Over the last year, a number of concerns have been raised to us regarding the Prime Minister’s use of statistics on child poverty and in each case, we have brought this to the attention of the briefing team in No.10. Further concerns were raised to us following Prime Minister’s Questions on 26 May, where the Prime Minister said that “We are also seeing fewer households now with children in poverty than 10 years ago.”

As the Office for Statistics Regulation highlighted last year in a blog and more recently in our review of income-based poverty statistics, measuring poverty is complicated and different measures tell different parts of the story.

We are pleased to see some improvement in the way official statistics on child poverty are referred to in these statements. However, it would help aid public understanding if statements concerning child poverty were clear about which measure is being referred to, particularly where other measures present a different trend.

I am copying this letter to Alex Jones, Head of Data and Transformation for 10 Downing Street, and Steve Ellerd-Elliott, Head of Profession for Statistics at the Department for Work and Pensions.

Yours sincerely

Ed Humpherson
Director General for Regulation