Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Channelling Lionel Richie, strangely enough

In today's column, Polly Toynbee writes:

But yesterday Hutton shook a threatening stick at those he regards as social-contract defaulters. He made a good case: one in 10 of those who draw jobseeker's allowance has spent six of the past seven years on benefits...

In fact, he talked about 12 per cent according to the, er, Guardian, which is a lot closer to one in eight, and is certainly not one in ten.

-o0o-

She also writes:

As the City reaps its £9bn bonuses, that money fuels an ultrasonic house-price boom. It's bad enough around the country at 180% up in the past decade, but far worse in London.

That's now the second time we've seen the £9bn figure for City bonuses (first time on 14 November).  We've also seen a £21bn figure for City bonuses twice (on 22 August and on 15 September).  Pick enough numbers, one of them is bound to be right...

The 180% increase on house prices is the same number that Michael Portillo cites here, in a piece which also juxtaposes the £9bn/180% increase figures.  According to the Halifax, though, the figure is 187%.

-o0o-

She also writes:

Rents are sent sky high, making it impossible for the unemployed to lose housing benefit by taking a job. They will never own a shed in the capital as the gap yawns ever wider between the 70% homeowners counting untaxed winnings every month, while the rest and their children are consigned to social housing forever.

The prose seems a little mangled here, but the 70%-of-people are homeowners figure really does need to be decommissioned.  The actual figure is that 70% of dwellings are owner-occupied, according to National Statistics.  This is not the same thing.

-o0o-

Compare and contrast, from today's column:

This social contract has mostly been kept by both sides under Labour.

and

Let's look at how the state breaks its side of the social contract.

Eh?

3 comments:

AD627 said...

Surely the most gratuitous error is her assertion that "there are now virtually no young long-term claimants, thanks to the New Deal"?

According to the Telegraph, "the latest figures showed that long-term youth unemployment stood at 178,000 — 78 per cent higher than it was five years ago".

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/12/22/newdeal22.xml

Tom said...

I looked up the definitions of 'owner-occupied' - and I'm confused. The term means that the owner (or co-owner) resides permanently in the home.

That is synonymous with 'owning your own home', isn't it?

Polly was right - right?

No agenda here, just trying to understand the issue. - Tom Charmer

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

Tom --

The difference is what the proportion represents. One is the proportion of buildings, and the other is the proportion of people. The average household has about 2.4 people in it, not all of whom are co-owners of the property.

Consider, for example, lodgers. Imagine that a number of expatriate Britons return to the UK, and become lodgers in owned houses. There would be no change in the proportion of houses which were owner-occupied, but there would in the proportion of the population that owned their own homes.

I also know someone who owns multiple buy-to-let properties but who lives in rental accommodation. When she bought her first buy-to-let property, there was no change in the proportion of properties that are owner-occupied, but there was a change in the proportion of the population who own property.

There is a difference between the proportion of homes which are owner-occupied (which is about 70%) and the proportion of the population that own a property (which is not).