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Written by rosalind renshaw

Figures stated in Parliament which were used to claim that private landlords are driving up housing benefit bills were not official statistics, as claimed, but came straight off FindaProperty.

Now Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith stands accused of having misled the House of Commons.

Landlord groups expressed incredulity as it emerged that data which Duncan Smith had claimed was from the highly-respected Office for National Statistics, had actually been found on the internet.

He told MPs: “We now know that, according to the Office for National Statistics, the private marketplace in housing fell by around 5% last year. At the same time, Local Housing Allowance rates had risen by 3%. There is thus a 7% gap with what is going on in the marketplace.”

However, the Department for Work and Pensions has now accepted that this was not true.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: “DWP press officers and ministers should not cut fast and loose with dodgy stats.
“I think the public will draw their own conclusions when the Secretary of State has access to the best statisticians in the land via the Office of National Statistics, and best rental data via the Valuation Office, and yet would prefer to use FindaProperty.

“In an age of austerity, it makes you wonder why taxpayers are paying for all these Government statisticians if the department would rather look up any old statistic off the web than use the professionals they have at their disposal.”

He said that Duncan Smith’s claim that landlords are driving up rents for tenants on LHA ignores the fact that LHA payouts are based on market rent data from the Valuation Office.

Findaproperty’s own figures show that UK rents are up 5.3% this year.

The DWP is already under investigation by the UK Statistics Authority. Chair Sir Michael Scholar ordered an investigation this month into the way it uses statistics.

The Residential Landlords Association is also furious. It points out that data from the DWP itself shows that most of the rise in the housing benefit cost has been caused by increasing unemployment and by government policies on social housing.

DWP’s own figures show almost 70% of the growth in the benefit bill is because of more claimants.


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    And it seems Mr Shapps is the one who is making himself look stupid as a result. Look up the Radio 4 TODAY interview with Mr Shapps just before 07:50 Thursday morning

    • 19 November 2010 23:23 PM
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    "...and best rental data via the Valuation Office..."

    Shurely shome mistake?

    • 19 November 2010 11:32 AM
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