benefitsThe Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been told off by Andrew Dilnot for apparently making incorrect claims that 8,000 people have come off benefits and found work since the coalition government introduced a cap on benefits.

Dilnot, who is now chairman of the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA), wrote in a letter: “I have today replied to a letter from Nicola Smith at the Trades Union Congress regarding the recent publication of statistics about the benefit cap.

“We have also considered the two short statistical reports published on 12 April against the criteria that the Statistics Authority has published for identifying material that should be regarded as official statistics and published in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

“In the manner and form published, the statistics do not comply fully with the principles of the Code of Practice, particularly in respect of accessibility to the sources of the data, information about the methodology and quality of the statistics, and the suggestion that the statistics were shared with the media in advance of their publication.”

Earlier this month, Dilnot wrote to Duncan Smith to express concerns about statistics relating to the Work Programme. Again, Dilnot questioned their public presentation, their coherence and their compliance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

Dilnot pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office had found the information published by the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to be “unclear” and parliament, the public and the media were “confused as to the relevance and meaning of the information”.

Dilnot said: “We do recognise that the statistics on the Work Programme are relatively complex and unfamiliar to commentators, particularly at this early stage in their development. I have asked my colleagues to explore with DWP statisticians what further advice and support would be helpful.”