More figures that don't matter

An anonymous poster in comments on yesterday's post said:
It would also be interesting to know as a percentage how many are claiming just child benefit, something I imagine virtually every family with children in the UK claims.
Being a sad bugger, I checked. I also checked how many were on tax credits, how many were on pension credit and how many were on housing benefit.

In doing that, I noticed another piece of dishonesty in the Mail article, which I've put in an update to yesterday's post, so have a look if you're interested.

Today though, here are the other numbers.

Number on Child Benefit - 7,449,600*
Number on Tax Credits - 6,017,000**
Number on Pension Credit - 2,600,000***
Number on Housing Benefit - 703,100****

So, if we do a Daily Mail and add the total of those with the total on out of work benefits from the Mail's 'Unemployment rate six times higher than official figures' article, we get 26,369,700 - or 44% of the general population 'living off the state to some extent.' That's just under one in two.

If we're more honest and only include the people on Income Support or Jobseeker's Allowance from the earler Mail article, so we have a more similar comparison, we have 18,419,700 - or 31% of the general population 'living off the state to some extent.' That's just under one in three.

So, even if we take the lowest of these two Daily Mail style estimates, around double the proportion of the general population are on benefits that the paper is up in arms about eastern Europeans being on. And that's even after the Mail has exaggerated the eastern European figures by counting every eastern European who has ever claimed any benefit since 2004 as still claiming those benefits.

If I had the same sort of scruples as a Daily Mail journalist, I'd use these figures to prove that if the general population were as averse to claiming benefits as eastern Europeans, our benefit bill would drop by at least half. But I know things are way more complex than that, so I won't.

*From May's Quarterly Child Benefit Statistics
**From April's Child and Working Tax Credit Statistics
***From the ONS Pension Credit Estimates of Take-Up in 2005-06 First Release
****From February's Housing Benefit & Council Tax Benefit Quarterly Summary Statistics

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