The Mirror reports that the Work and Pensions Secretary is finally being called to account for using inaccurate and misleading statistics to justify his policies. He will now have to face an MPs’ select committee on December 9th, after repeatedly cancelling the appointment.{jcomments on}

Since being appointed as Work and Pensions Secretary in 2010, Iain Duncan Smith has had so many problems with statistics it’s earned him the nickname ‘Iain’s Dodgy Stats’.

From November 2010, when he was caught out using figures from the website instead of his own DWP statisticians, to his claim in May 2013 that the benefit cap had driven 8,000 people back to work, he has been censured by bodies including the Office for National Statistics.

This summer, two disabled women started a campaign calling for IDS to be held to account. Within weeks it had more than 105,000 signatures.

The petition was presented by MP Liz Kendall. Hansard records that “The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Work and Pensions Select Committee to question Mr Duncan Smith at their earliest convenience to hold him to account on his use of statistics and further requests that the House requires Mr Duncan Smith to retract any incorrect statistics...”

Meanwhile, the Select Committee has agreed to “examine the way DWP releases benefit statistics to the media”.

On Monday, after the petition was delivered, Duncan-Smith answered questions put by his Labour opponent Rachel Reeves in the debating chamber.

Even then, IDS dropped another dodgy statistic. This time, he claimed that child poverty rose under Labour - in fact it dropped by 800,000.

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies now estimates it will rise by 600,000 thanks to IDS’ welfare reforms.

The campaigners say: “What really got to us in the beginning was a claim by Esther McVey, then the disabilities minister, that people getting Disability Living Allowance rarely had face-to-face medicals.

“We knew this wasn’t true. When we looked into it, it turned out only nine per cent of DLA funding was spent on this basis.”

McVey had also made other claims, that the campaigners could prove were mistaken. They began with an open letter asking her to desist from “persistent use of dubious facts”.

In July 2013, Andrew Dilnot CBE, Chair of the UK Statistics Authority said IDS had “broken the code of practice for official statistics”, and Jonathan Portes of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said the DWP boss had gone “beyond spin”.

IDS started to take another tack, that conveniently required no statistics at all. “I have a belief I am right,” he told the Today Programme on Radio 4.

The appointment with the Work and Pensions committee has been repeatedly cancelled – but will now happen on 9th December, eight months late.

Read the full story here.

Watch the select committee meeting 9th December


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