1 week, 6 days ago

Councils aren’t using postal ballots to suppress the youth vote

We’ve seen a few posts going round social media today claiming that the date of birth section on postal ballots is being pre-filled with the year starting “19” like this.

There’s been concern raised that this could confuse and may even discourage voters born in 2000 and 2001 who are eligible to vote.

We don’t think there’s anything to be worried about here. We contacted Bromley council who said that they do pre-fill the date of birth on postal ballots, but that voters born in 2000 or 2001 would receive a ballot prefilled accordingly with “20..” 

That was also the response of Cheshire West and Chester Council, the source of another of the questioned ballots.

Postal ballots are pre-filled like this to discourage people writing in the current date, rather than their date of birth. 

Bromley Council told us that the chance of someone receiving an erroneously pre-filled ballot was very small, but that if anyone born in the 2000s does, they should just cross the “19” out and write their actual year of birth above. 

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1 week, 6 days ago

On an (electoral) roll

Did you know that today is the last day you can register to vote in the election on December 12? Well, it is. You've got until 5pm to register for a postal vote (unless you're in Northern Ireland, in which case it's too late), and until 11.59pm to register to vote in person (that includes in NI).

We've written a helpful guide to everything you need to know about registering to vote

This election campaign has seen significantly higher applications for voter registration than in the same time period before the 2017 general election.

But it's worth noting that this doesn’t mean they are all new voters. Based on previous votes, a significant number will be duplicate applications from people who were, in fact, already registered to vote.

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1 week, 6 days ago

BBC deletes inaccurate child poverty claim

The BBC reported this morning on analysis predicting that child poverty is expected to rise under the Conservatives’ plans for government.

The Resolution Foundation think tank estimated that, because the party's manifesto does not propose changes to benefits, relative child poverty could reach 34% by 2023/24.

The BBC included a response from the Conservatives challenging the report which they reported as: “The Tories said 750,000 fewer children are in poverty since they took power.”

This claim is incorrect. No measure of child poverty shows a fall of 750,000 since 2010—most of the main measures show a rise. The measures that do show a fall put it at about 100,000, well short of the amount claimed.

The line was on the BBC website for most of this morning, but in the past hour the BBC has removed the claim from its article. At time of writing, the claim is still in the BBC’s morning news roundup.

It’s possible the BBC misquoted a Conservative quote to the Guardian, which the BBC actually quotes in full later on in its article. The Conservatives said that “We are committed to tackling child poverty and have made progress since we came into government – with 730,000 fewer children in workless households.”

The 730,000 figure is correct and shows the change in the estimated number of children in workless households between April to June 2010 and 2019. But it’s not a measure of poverty.

We’ve asked the BBC to confirm if the figure was misquoted, or if the Conservatives actually sent them the inaccurate claim.

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1 week, 6 days ago

NHS funding boost not at record levels

 The Prime Minister has repeatedly made claims that the NHS is set to receive £34 billion and described this in a number of ways: as the biggest spending increase in modern memory, or a “record sum” or the biggest boost for a generation.

It’s certainly not a record sum and whether or not you think this is the biggest increase in modern memory really depends on how good your memory is.

The £34 billion is a spending increase in real terms of £20.5 billion between 2018/19 and 2023/24 (this was first announced in July 2018). The last time spending increased by at least that amount in real terms was between 2004/05 and 2009/10, when it increased by £24 billion in real terms.

We've written more about this here

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2 weeks ago

Conservatives repeat misleading £2,400 cost of Labour figure

During his Conservative manifesto launch speech, Boris Johnson said Labour’s plans mean “higher taxes for everybody in this country, £2,400 extra.” The claim also appears in the Conservative manifesto.

This figure was first calculated by the Conservatives before the publication of Labour’s manifesto, so we called the calculation “largely meaningless”, as the Conservatives couldn’t know, at the time, exactly what Labour’s policies were.

Now that Labour’s manifesto has been published, we know it proposes £83 billion of increased spending by 2023/24. Labour has since announced compensation for the WASPI women at a cost of up to £58 billion in total (so an additional £11.5 billion per year).

If you divide that £83 billion figure by the number of income tax payers in the UK, it gives you a figure of roughly £2,600, or adding in the funding for WASPI women, the figure would be £3,000. But those figures are meaningless. They don’t mean that every income tax payer will have to pay this to fund the pledges.

That’s because Labour does not plan to fund its spending pledges through higher income tax for everybody (and even if it did, the cost would fall disproportionately on higher earners).

Labour doesn’t plan to raise income tax for those earning under £80,000 a year, and says that this increased spending will mainly be funded through taxes including corporation tax, a financial transactions tax, and higher income tax for those earning over £80,000 a year. 

The IFS says that “it is unlikely that one could raise the sums suggested by Labour from the tax policies they set out.” 

So Labour’s calculations have their problems, but it’s wrong to suggest that every income tax payer in the UK will fund every penny of Labour’s additional spending, and in equal amount.

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