A couple of days ago, I posted 'Deja vu all over again', about how some stats that appear every three months get warmed over and chucked out by the Mail as if they're fresh. Today, we have the stats from 'Why the figures don't matter' as they appear three months later in 'Benefit claims by Eastern Europeans double in one year to £145m'. Guess what? Since they measure the total number of benefit claims since accession and don't count the number who come off benefits or leave the country, the figures are higher! I, for one, am shocked.
The Mail's picture for the story. Wonder what part of Eastern Europe the 5 guys on the right come from.
This story's a winner for the hack involved (none other than James Slack), since the total number of Eastern Europeans who have ever claimed benefits since accession will always rise and can never fall. All he has to do every three months is multiply the number of claimants by the amount they would be getting if they all still received the same benefits - even assuming that every Eatern European who ever claimed jobseeker's Allowance never found a job -and hey presto! He can pretend that's the annual cost!
Except it isn't. And not just for the reasons I've already gone through.
Although Slack doesn't include claims that are instantly disallowed (unlike measures for the numbers of Eastern Europeans in the country in which he includes just under 30,000 people whose applications were refused), he includes everyone whose application wasn't instantly dismissed on the grounds of failing Habitual Residence Tests, but were passed on to the next set of tests to see if they were eligible. A number of the people counted will never have received benefits in the first place. They've just lived here long enough to get them if they qualify. The full Accession Monitoring Report is here.
Remember - real money that you can spend in shops. No cricket bats. No justice.