Universal Credit has not got 200,000 people into work

7th Feb 2020

Claim

Universal Credit has got 200,000 people into work.

Conclusion

Incorrect. This was the government’s estimate of what Universal Credit would do by 2024/5. It may not be reliable, and can never be measured properly.

“Universal Credit has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs.” 

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister’s Questions, 22 January 2020

Boris Johnson made this claim in Prime Minister’s Questions two weeks ago. This is a topic we’ve written about before. As we said then, 200,000 was the government’s own estimate of how many more people would find jobs by 2024/25, as a result of Universal Credit.

The prime minister has conflated a prediction that the government made 19 months ago with evidence that they have actually achieved it.

In response to a letter from the shadow work and pensions secretary, Margaret Greenwood MP, the chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove, wrote to confirm that “the 200,000 figure represents the Department for Work and Pensions’ estimate of the predicted impact on employment once Universal Credit is fully rolled out rather than the effect so far.”

The figure originally appeared in a document released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in June 2018, which argued the business case for the introduction of Universal Credit. 

The National Audit Office expressed “significant doubt about the main benefits” that the DWP expected. It also said that the DWP would not be able to measure the effect of Universal Credit, because it could not filter out other effects on employment from the wider economy.

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