THE UK statistics watchdog has sent a warning to Jeremy Hunt following an inaccuracy in his tweets last month.

The Chancellor claimed public debt levels would fall in the coming years when in fact they are simply forecast to rise less steeply than previously expected. The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) has now written a letter to him reminding him about the importance of accuracy. Whoops…

On the back of this, we’ve dug up a selection of other times the Tories have been in trouble with the UKSA...

David Cameron on EU migrants benefits claims

Former prime minister David Cameron was called out in 2015 when he set out proposed reforms for how EU migrants could claim benefits when they come to the UK.

He claimed 43% of EU migrants claimed benefits within four years of arriving in the UK. This led to Full Fact reporting him to the UKSA as Downing Street provided no indication of where this figure had come from.

The watchdog’s chair Sir Andrew Dilnot, said the Government’s handling of the release of the figures was “disappointing” and “unsatisfactory” and that officials had been “spoken with”.

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Dilnot said in a letter: “The release of these statistics without the subsequent accompanying background material explaining the methodology used made it hard for those interested to understand and scrutinise the statistics, which was clearly unsatisfactory.”

Boris Johnson’s ‘£350 million a week’ claim

Another former prime minister, Boris Johnson, came under fire from the watchdog when he claimed the Government would have £350 million extra a week to spend if the UK left the EU.

The National: Boris Johnson was accused of a 'clear misuse' of statisticsBoris Johnson was accused of a 'clear misuse' of statistics (Image: PA)

The figure formed the centrepiece of the Vote Leave campaign and was plastered over the side of a bus that carried Johnson and other Brexiteers around the UK.

The UKSA accused the then-foreign secretary of a “clear misuse of official statistics”.

George Osbourne releases CPI too early

Former chancellor George Osbourne was pulled up by the authority in 2011 for releasing the Consumer Price Index 17 hours early to hundreds of ministers, officials and advisers.

Only 17 Treasury staff were allowed to see the market sensitive information 24 hours before official release.

In a letter, the authority chief Sir Michael Scholar said: “Why do 50 or more people need to have the CPI a day ahead of the opposition, Parliament, the public, and the media?

“There is, I believe, no good operational reason, but successive governments want the political advantage that such prior knowledge confers on them: that is, time to work out their line; and therefore time to spin.”

NHS real-term spending blunder

Hunt’s latest mistake is not the first time he’s been told off by the statistics watchdog.

In 2012, the UK Government claimed real-term spending on the NHS had increased since 2009/10.

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But the authority disagreed. It said in a letter to Hunt, who was then health secretary, that the Treasury’s own figures revealed “expenditure on the NHS in real-terms was lower in 2011-12 than it was in 2009-10”.

Shailesh Vara on legal aid earnings

Former courts and legal aid minister Shailesh Vara was pulled up in 2014 by the UKSA after the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) misleadingly claimed barristers earn an average of £84,000 from legal aid.

The watchdog discovered the MoJ had used the mean fee income from public funds for full-time barristers and also excluded barriers who earned less than £10,000 a year from public funds.

The figure also included VAT, which barristers must pay to HMRC, and expenses such as travel costs.

Dillnot said to Vara in a letter: “Use of the mean, rather than the median, results in a higher estimate as the calculation is influenced by a small number of larger payments.”

The MoJ announced at the time it would carry out a review to improve the transparency of its statistics.