With deceptively little fanfare, the work and pensions select committee has announced that it intends to question Iain Duncan Smith over his misuse of statistics.
After IDS was rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for falsely claiming that 8,000 people had moved into work as a result of the introduction of the benefit cap, the committee has "decided to examine the way DWP releases benefit statistics to the media".
Since the Work and Pensions Secretary always appears before the committee once the assessment has been published, he is now certain to face questions over his statistical chicanery.
The Change.org petition calling for Duncan Smith to be held to account by parliament has now received 96,271 signatures. Let us now hope he is.
In the past month, the Work and Pensions Secretary has claimed that 878,000 people dropped their claims for sickness benefits rather than face a new medical assessment; that thousands deliberately registered for the Disability Living Allowance before it was replaced with the more “rigorous” Personal Independence Payment; and that 8,000 people moved into work as a result of the introduction of the coalition’s benefit cap.
Not one of these assertions was supported by the official statistics.
Duncan Smith’s insistence that the reverse was true was dog-whistle politics of the worst kind. By stating that 8,000 people entered employment as a direct consequence of the benefit cap, he painted them as “scroungers” unwilling to work until the state ceased to subsidise their fecklessness.
As for those who had not found jobs, the implication was that they were merely not trying hard enough.