Welfare spending, wage growth and housing: factchecking Prime Minister's Questions

Published: 17th Jun 2015

George Osborne stood in for the PM at this week's clashes in the Commons, with Hilary Benn at the despatch box for Labour.

The Chancellor's claim during the session that the UK accounts for 7% of the world's welfare spending has already gained a lot of interest on Twitter. It's apparently based on unpublished internal analysis. We've factchecked it based on what we know so far.

Here are some of the other claims we noticed:

"Under this government's leadership, the construction of social rented homes has fallen to a 20 year low"—Heidi Alexander

While it's true that the number of new built social rent homes in England has fallen to a twenty year low, it's not true that the government is delivering a twenty year low number of homes in the social rented sector.

In 2010, the government introduced the idea of 'Affordable Rent' housing. The English social rented sector includes both social rent and affordable rent properties. When you take this into account, construction of homes in the social rented sector isn't at a 20 year low.

"we built more council housing in the last five years than was built in the entire 13 years of the last Labour Government"—George Osborne

This is the second time this has been said at PMQs this month. It's true but most social homes are now built for housing associations rather than being council homes, so it's not telling the whole story.

"For the first time, wages are growing faster than since the great recession"

This is right: real wages were 2.8% higher in the latest data than they were a year earlier. This is the largest year-on-year increase in real wages since October 2007, well before the recession began in the second quarter of 2008.


"the number of reported rapes in Greater London has risen by 68% in the last 10 years"—David Lammy

This is roughly right and was highlighted by an independent review into how rapes in London are investigated and prosecuted. Recorded rapes and 'penetrative offences' rose by 68% between 2005/06 and 2013/14.

Even though recorded rapes have increased this much, this doesn't mean that rapes are happening this much more often. There are other known factors at work such as an increased willingness for victims to come forward, and better recording practices by the police.

"According to the Women's Aid annual survey last year, on one single day there were 132 women aged 18 to 20 living in refuge after being attacked, assaulted and in some cases raped."—Jess Phillips

We've been in touch with Women's Aid who've confirmed the figure is correct and based on the Women's Annual Aid Survey 2014 for England (with data provided by 139 out of 351 refuge services).

However the figure hasn't been published by Women's Aid, so we're unable to verify the claim directly. We're waiting to hear back on why this is.


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We aim for our factchecks to be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you think we've made an error or missed some relevant information, please email team@fullfact.org.