THE SHAKY ANALYSIS THAT LED THE EXPRESS TO CLAIM EU MIGRANTS COST US £30 BILLION A YEAR

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(Image: Getty)

On Saturday, the Daily Express published an article titled EU THREAT TO PENSIONS. Subtitled ‘Mass migration blamed for £30 billion a YEAR ‘economic catastrophe”, the article is based on a report produced by Brexit think tank Global Britain.

Both article and report make the claim that, contrary to received wisdom that the UK needs an influx of workers to support its growing pension system, economic migration from the EU is actually costing the UK economy £30 billion a year.

The report is the latest in the ‘Brexit Papers’ series published by Global Britain and is titled ‘How The £30 Billion Cost of EU Migration Imperils Pensions and Benefits’. The subtitle is ‘Why leaving the single market is vital for our public finances and to secure our pensions and benefits’.

The report raises some valid points about large corporations effectively exploiting EU freedom of movement rules, as well as countries like the UK, by setting up outlets staffed by low-paid migrant workers. It also mentions (but doesn’t make enough of an issue about) the cost to the UK economy of corporation tax avoidance due to large companies basing their HQ elsewhere in Europe.

But the claim that EU migration costs the UK £30 billion a year is based on some very shaky arithmetic. It’s based on rough figures of 3 million EU migrants in the UK in total – 2 million working and 1 million non-working.

But what author Bob Lyddon has done is take the average UK public spending per head of £10,500 per annum and multiply it by 3 million. He’s then taken off what he sees as the annual tax contribution of EU migrants which he’s calculated as £1 billion. This gives him his balance of £30 billion.

There are a few problems with this:

  • You can’t use UK public spending per head in analysis like this. Aside from the fact that different groups will use disproportionate amounts of certain budgets (e.g. children in education, pensioners with pensions, health and social care), not all public spending is spent on services accessible to the public (e.g. £45billion annual defence spending, £50billion annual debt interest payments). These amounts are not affected by increases or decreases in population.

  • The contribution of EU migrants is based on the assumption that all 2 million working migrants are in low-paid work and are paying hardly any tax due to the minimum earnings tax threshold. Mr Lyddon uses a figure of £500 annual tax paid per head, which is ridiculously low. Although a lot of migrants, including EU migrants, are in low-paid jobs, there are also many skilled EU workers such as professors, city workers, lawyers, doctors, technicians, etc. who will be paying top rates of tax. They are completely overlooked in the analysis.

  • It is also casually assumed that these 2 million low-paid workers pay no tax in the form of TV license, fuel duty, alcohol tax, tobacco tax, council tax, etc. This is dismissed with a comment that low-paid workers aren’t in a position to make much of a contribution here. So we are to assume that all 2 million EU workers live a life of abstinence, don’t own TVs and are all facing impending jail sentences due to non-payment of council tax.

  • Even if it were true that all 2 million working EU migrants were in such low paid work that they were unable to make much of a tax contribution, this is a problem of low pay and not of migration. This was a problem in the UK long before EU open borders and could well get worse if worker rights aren’t guaranteed after Brexit.

In these heated times of half-truths, untruths, post-truths and alternative facts, we could do with some robust economic analysis to give us a bit of grounding. But this is not it. Figures clearly manipulated to fit a predetermined conclusion and the report used by the Express as yet another stick with which to beat the EU and migrants.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

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IPSO RULING: SUN MISUSED HOME OFFICE STATS ON ADULT MIGRANTS AND FAILED TO CORRECT PROMPTLY

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Reprinted from The Sun corrections column, 24th February 2017. Original available here.

Following the publication of an article headlined “Trevor Kavanagh: Gary Lineker forgets that we’re not racist – we just don’t like being conned”, Miqdaad Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that The Sun breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

IPSO’s Complaints Committee upheld the complaint, and has required The Sun to publish this adjudication online.

The article was a comment piece in which the columnist discussed the migrant camp in Calais and his concern that refugees were lying about their age in order to gain access to Britain. He said that Home Office figures had shown that “two out of three of those elbowing their way to the front of the queue are lying about their age”.

The complainant said two out of three refugees seeking asylum had not been found to have lied about their age, as reported.

In fact, out of 3,472 asylum claims received, 933 individuals had their ages checked, and 636 were found to be adults, which represented 18.3 per cent of the total. While a correction had been published in print, the online article had not been corrected.

The newspaper accepted that an error had been made in relation to Home Office statistics.

Due to an oversight, a correction was not initially published online. When it was alerted to this, a correction was appended to the online article and published in the online Clarifications and Corrections section.

However, the publication did not correct the references to the statistics because it considered it “inappropriate” to amend the columnist’s actual words, and it argued that the correction made the factual position clear.

However, during IPSO’s investigation, it amended the inaccurate references to the Home Office statistics, which had appeared in the subheading, as a caption and in the text.

The Committee considered that the misinterpreted statistics had given a significantly misleading impression of the number of asylum seekers who had incorrectly said they were children in order to gain refuge.

It also represented a central point, which the columnist had relied upon, to support his position that there had been an “abysmal failure” on behalf of the Border Force and immigration authorities to address the issue.

The inaccuracy had been given greater emphasis in the online article as it had been repeated three times, including in the subheading. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i). A correction was required in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1 (ii).

While the newspaper had promptly corrected the inaccuracy in print, it had failed to do so online. Given that the inaccuracy clearly related to an assertion of fact, the Committee rejected the newspaper’s reasoning for the delay. The newspaper had failed to correct a significant inaccuracy promptly in breach of Clause 1(ii).  The complaint under Clause 1 was upheld.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

NOT FIT FOR FACTS: 20 TIMES THE DAILY MAIL WROTE RUBBISH IN THE PAST YEAR

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Yesterday, the editors of the Wikipedia website voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for referencing in its articles, citing the paper’s ‘reputation for poor fact-checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication’.

To commemorate this long-overdue decision, I’ve decided to delve into the Tabloid Corrections archive to find 20 separate occasions when the Daily Mail was caught spouting bulls**t in the past 12 months.

*CLICK ON HEADLINES TO ACCESS STORIES

  1. DAILY MAIL MISLEADS ON STORY ABOUT CHARITY PROJECT FOR REFUGEES

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(Photo: Adam Patterson/Panos/DFID)

The paper slurs a charity project for unaccompanied child refugees as a ‘jolly up’ at the taxpayer’s expense.

  1. WHY THE DAILY MAIL ARTICLE ON LONDON IMMIGRATION IS COMPLETE RUBBISH

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The paper misrepresents a book about immigrants in London to make false claims about London’s migrant community

  1. LESSONS IN TABLOID SPIN: HOW THE DAILY MAIL LIED ABOUT AN EU STUDY

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Statistics are cherry-picked from an EU study to paint a false picture about migrants and refugees in London

  1. THE DOCTOR WHO REPORTED THE MUSLIM SURGEON: THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS SUSPENSION

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The paper was one of a number of tabloids falsely reporting that a doctor had been suspended for asking a female colleague to remove her hijab before an operation.

  1. TABLOID PRESS REPORTS ON BEGGARS MAKING £43K A YEAR, BUT WHERE DID THEY GET THE FIGURES FROM?

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(Photo: Kenneth Allen)

Story that ran in several tabloids about beggars supposedly making a fortune, backed up with no real evidence

  1. DAILY MAIL LAUNCHES SHAMEFUL AND DESPERATE ATTACK ON SADIQ KHAN

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(Photo: US Embassy London)

The paper makes a series of desperate attempts to link Sadiq Khan to extremism

  1. DAILY MAIL GUILTY OF MISREPORTING ON STATISTICS AGAIN – THIS TIME IT’S BENEFIT CLAIMANTS

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(Photo: Andrew Writer)

The paper misuses DWP statistics to try and have a go at people on benefits

  1. MORE LIES AND HYPE FROM THE DAILY MAIL ON REFUGEES

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(Photo: DFID)

The paper slurs refugees as economic migrants coming to sponge off the state.

  1. TABLOID SMEAR CAMPAIGN AGAINST LABOUR CONTINUES

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(Photo: US Embassy London)

More lies written about Sadiq Khan

  1. THE DAILY MAIL, THE TORY MP AND THE LIES ABOUT UK BORDERS

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(Photo: Policy Exchange)

Lies written about border controls to try and have a go at the EU.

  1. PAPERS ACCUSED BY POLICE OF ‘TRIVIALISING’ ABUSE TOWARDS WOMEN

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The paper was one of a number of outlets reporting that a police force would be classifying wolf whistling as a hate crime

  1. TABLOIDS FALLING OVER THEMSELVES TO DRAW OUT NEGATIVES FROM REPORT ON FRENCH MUSLIMS

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(Photo: Chris Schuepp)

The paper was among tabloids who chose to focus on a conservative minority of Muslims answering a French questionnaire. Another attempt to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment.

  1. THIS WEEK’S TABLOID NARRATIVE: TREAT CHILDREN FLEEING WARZONES WITH SUSPICION

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The Daily Mail was one of a number of papers making unsubstantiated allegations about child refugees

  1. FORGET THE EU: NOW IT’S THE UK PARLIAMENT THAT’S UNDEMOCRATIC, ACCORDING TO THE TABLOIDS

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(Photo: Carlesmari)

The now infamous ‘enemies of the people’ and ‘war on democracy’ rant about the Brexit decision.

  1. MAIL ON SUNDAY ADOPTS ‘CHINESE WHISPERS’ METHOD OF REVIEWING INTEGRATION REPORT, ENDS UP WRITING MORE RUBBISH ABOUT MUSLIMS

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(Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License CC-BY-SA 3.0)

False claim that some British Muslims see the UK as 75% Islamic

  1. DAILY MAIL THINKS THAT BETTER USER PRIVACY RULES COULD DESTROY THE INTERNET

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Another swipe at the EU, this time over an internet privacy directive

  1. IN THE SEASON OF GOODWILL, THE DAILY MAIL LAUNCHES VICIOUS ATTACK ON WOMEN’S SUPPORT GROUP

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(Photo: Andrew Parsons/i-Images)

An attempt to smear a Muslim women’s group by linking it to extremism

  1. TABLOIDS LIE ABOUT BANK REPORT ON THE POUND

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Falsely blaming a plummeting pound on ‘Brexit doomsters’.

  1. THREE LOVE LETTERS TO TRUMP AND AN ATTEMPTED SMEAR OF OBAMA: HOW THE DAILY MAIL COVERED US POLITICS AT THE WEEKEND

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(Photo: Michael Vadon)

The paper makes its US political allegiances known

  1. THE MAIL ON SUNDAY AND THE LIES ABOUT NHS GUIDELINES: LESSONS IN TABLOID SPIN

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Falsely claiming that doctors had been ordered to use gender-neutral terms when dealing with pregnant mothers.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

DAILY MIRROR RUNS OVER-HYPED STORY ABOUT PARLIAMENT BOOZE BILL

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(Photo: Getty)

The Daily Mirror has published a story about ‘Champagne Charlie’ MPs spending ‘astonishing’ amounts of money on alcohol in parliamentary bars – but it turns out to be a big fuss about nothing.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the Mirror published an article titled PARLIAMENT’S BOOZE BILL HAS TRIPLED IN TWO YEARS – TO £1.8 MILLION. The paper paints a picture of booze-guzzling MPs ramping up the bar bill inside the House of Commons and Palace of Westminster.

The story was also picked up by The Sun.

But the reason the bill has tripled in two years is because the House of Commons has increased the number of commercial and private hire events where alcohol is sold to external customers. This has been done in an attempt to reduce the overall running costs of the bars, which are subsidised by the taxpayer unless they make a profit.

A House of Commons spokesman said that external sales made up ‘more than half of alcohol sales in the past two years’.

It’s also worth noting that the bars are used not just by the 650 MPs but by around 14,500 pass-holders (such as civil servants, Peers and contractors) plus non-pass holding visitors.

So even if the external commercial sales are excluded, the whole bill works out at less than £2.50 per week per head.

Like The Sun and the Daily Mail with their tales of ‘shocking’ foreign aid and health tourism costs, the Daily Mirror has tried to bamboozle readers with big numbers. But as is often the case with these things when you scratch beneath the surface, it’s a total non-story.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

THE BIG DAILY EXPRESS EXPOSE ON THE BBC REVEALS… STUFF THE BEEB HAS HAD ON ITS WEBSITE FOR A YEAR

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(Photo: Getty)

The Daily Express has tried to dish the dirt on the BBC in an article on EU funding, by revealing information that has been on the BBC website for a year.

In its article titled BRUSSELS BROADCASTING CORPORATION? THE EU MILLIONS BEING BANKED BY THE IMPARTIAL BBC, the paper tries to claim the corporation’s impartiality has been compromised by £2.3 million of EU funding over the past three years.

The paper calls the amount of money ‘worryingly large’ although it amounts to less than 0.1% of the money the BBC receives each year from the license fee.

The BBC has information about the external funding on its website. None of the money has gone towards its public service news programmes, which are not allowed funding from external sources.

EU funding has been granted in three areas:

BBC Media Action – an independent charity focusing on international development set up by the BBC, which receives 5% of its funding from the EU.

Research and Development – the BBC received an EU grant of £472,197 towards research into broadcasting technologies.

Independent production companies – around 2% of companies that have produced programmes (mostly drama-based) for the BBC have received EU grants towards their budgets, averaging around 6% of the overall programme budget in each case.

So all that’s happened is our state-run broadcaster has received a bit of money from the EU media budget, which it is perfectly entitled to and has been completely transparent about. Surely it would be a bigger scandal if the UK hadn’t received this money, given our EU contributions?

Would the Daily Express prefer it if the Beeb got nothing? No doubt it would then run a front-page headline UNELECTED EUROCRATS STARVE OUR MEDIA WHILE YOUR MONEY FUNDS TV STATIONS ABROAD.

No, the Daily Express has cynically brought this up in a cheap attempt to accuse the BBC of pro-EU bias. It’s a surreal stance to take – complain that we pay millions a week to the EU and get nothing back, while simultaneously denouncing those that do get something back as being biased towards the EU.

It’s also interesting that the Daily Express has attacked another news outlet on its stance over the EU in a week when it has been sanctioned not once but twice by IPSO for ‘seriously inaccurate information’ on the EU.

An investigation into the impartiality of the Daily Express – now that would be interesting.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.

HEALTH TOURISM AND OUR’SOFT TOUCH’ NHS: THE SUN’S LATEST ATTEMPT TO BLAME EVERYTHING ON FOREIGNERS

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Watch out, The Sun is on the warpath again. Seemingly done with raging about the 0.7% of our annual budget spent on foreign aid putting an unbearable drain on our economy, the paper has now turned its attention to ‘health tourism’.

Three articles have been published within the last week, starting with a front page story expressing outrage at a Nigerian woman giving birth in this country. This was followed with two more articles keen to emphasise to all that our ‘soft touch’ NHS is being ‘rinsed’ by health tourists at the taxpayer’s expense.

Now I’m not saying health tourism doesn’t exist. It does, and it’s right that the government should be putting appropriate measures into place to tackle it. It’s also true that the UK visa system might need adjusting to reduce the amount of money that ends up getting owed to the NHS in the first place.

But rather than being a big drain on the cash-strapped NHS, the cost of health tourism per year is tiny. It amounts to 0.3% of the total NHS budget. This figure has been independently fact-checked. Health tourism is not the cause of current NHS problems. It’s almost irrelevant. Yet papers like The Sun peddle the narrative that our health service is in crisis because of foreigners. As with so much else, they make an easy scapegoat for lazy tabloid journalists.

But, as studies have shown, the impact of immigration – whether from the EU or from outside the EU – on the NHS is minor when compared to other factors such as population ageing and expanding treatment.

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If The Sun was really concerned about the state of the NHS, perhaps it could turn its attention to the fact that it is chronically badly underfunded. Analysis has shown how the UK is a low spender on public health, both in EU and OECD terms, and has been for years.

But then that would mean raising taxes, or tightening things up to stop the wealthy avoiding tax. Given that the Murdoch empire was once found to have avoided at least £350 million in corporation tax – enough money to build seven new hospitals – it’s easy to see why that might be a tricky option for the paper.

Far more convenient to keep blaming everything on Nigerian mothers giving birth.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.