Housing minister’s statistics ‘deliberately misleading’

By Cassie Chambers

Housing minister Grant Shapps has been accused of using statistics to misrepresent the state of housing in the UK.

Shadow housing minister Jack Dromey has written a letter to the UK Statistics Authority raising six issues regarding Mr Shapps' use of housing statistics.

The issues raised cover Mr Shapps' use of a variety of housing figures, ranging from the number of new homes built in the UK to the number of people who are homeless.

Mr Shapps, for example, recently told MPs that the number of new homes being built has risen 25% compared with 2009. Labour claims official figures show the actual number has dropped four per cent compared with 2010.

Mr Dromey has asked the UK Statistics Authority to look into Mr Shapps' “misrepresentation and misuse” of figures, suggesting his numbers were "factually incorrect or deliberately misleading".

In the letter, Mr Dromey says he is concerned that "a casual attitude to accuracy is not only confusing to the public but is obstructing genuine public debate".

This letter is not the first time Mr Shapps has been accused of misusing statistics. Labour MP Nick Raynsford previously sent a similar letter to the UK Statistics Authority.

Sir Michael Scholar, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority at the time, responded to Mr Raynsford's letter in January: "Looking at statistics on housing, house building and house prices more generally, the Statistics Authority has been concerned for some time that there is a lack of coherence and clarity in their public presentation."

Mr Shapps responded to today’s letter by criticising what he calls Mr. Dromey's "incomprehensible rant".

"[Labour's] housing market renewal programme bulldozed 10,000 homes, whilst only replacing 1,000," he continued.

"So just to be clear, no-one did more to destroy our nation's homes since the Luftwaffe bombs of World War II."