Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Emotive statistics

The Daily Mail reports a shocking survey that reveals that a full THIRD of working families have not enough savings to cover a month of rent or mortgage, if a job is lost. If true, that is extremely worrying both on a human level and on a macro level - if a third of people may stop paying rent or mortgage payments if the job market turns down it does not bear thinking about.

But is it true? The survey was commissioned by Shelter, of that breed of political activist organisations which also does some charitable work. Their numbers do not stand up to much scrutiny: the THIRD of working families actually totals three million rather than a third of households as such (there are about 25 million households in the UK). Three million is still a lot, but it is clearly nonsense to say that three million is a third of households. Their definition of a "working family" must narrow the numbers quite significantly. It probably means "people with young children at home". 

Fine. Still a lot of people struggle to make ends meet and we shouldn't belittle that.

The Mail article doesn't give any more detail, but it does give a platform for Shelter to demand more welfare benefits for its favoured groups, with the stark figure that for 48% of "families", housing is the "biggest drain" on their budget. 

That people spend a high proportion of their monthly income on the most important priority should hardly be news. What the Mail/Shelter article does not mention is that for around 50% of all households (at least some of which must surely overlap), tax is the biggest single drain on budgets. 

Instead of campaigning for more housing benefits - which often just feed through to even higher rents - perhaps Shelter could campaign for more building to be allowed, for lower taxes, for "families" to save more for themselves, and for a generally more dynamic economy?


Clumsy said...

I tend to take all statistics with a pinch of salt. Perhaps it should it be compulsory for the sample sizes of polls to be stated in news articles/reports. If we believed all statistics in reports we'd be scared to eat/drink anything...

CityUnslicker said...

Be - love the last para - that would be a treat!

Roger said...

Used to be two salary cheques away from the dole queue, now it is one. Indeed, lucky is the low waged person with a salary cheque. Sure, Shelter is bigging up its book but the underlying story seems true enough.

The obvious suggestion is build houses, promote a dynamic economy and lower taxes. All very rosy stuff. But we are entering a period of lower growth in the West, automation etc will reduce available jobs for Jack & Jill Average. So I fear the obvious suggestion probably won't work in the sense that it will bring about a happy prosperous nation, it won't. We will still need the housing but probably not so many nice semis - more like blocks of flats.

Then there is the sale or renting of them. Terribly tempting to outsource to some management company, but a good number of the tenants will be social housing tenants and it would seem unwise to encourage the High Court Sheriffs brigade further. Plenty for Parliament to screw up.

Bill Quango MP said...

I see the TUC is telling us that half of all women are sexually harassed at work.

Dig down into the numbers {not even dig..just scrape the thin soil covering a bit} and it becomes a real, sexual harresment-go-to-court-sexual -handsy boss for perhaps 6% of all women in all of their worklife.

I would say that EVERY woman I've ever worked with has a sexual harassment story. The older the more likely. And certainly from the 1960s and 1970s some of those tales were of a genuine, unwanted, and predatory nature.

But the headline and the 'gender issues' spokesperson would have you believe every other woman has been raped at work.

Laban Tall said...

ND - I see that HMG has 70-odd billion of new QE electronic cash to burn on gilts and corporate debt, and it can't find enough gilt-sellers cos BoE already owns 25% of all gilts.

At the same time, we're promising the Chinese they'll get the contract for a couple of unspecified nuclear plants in Essex, if only they'll stump up 6bn at Hinkley towards an unproven Areva EPR design of which the only examples are way behind schedule, way over budget and none are actually live.

Q1 - are HMG insane? Why not spend a virtual 6bn on Hinkley?

As The Engineer pointed out


"To digress a little, the peculiar mental gymnastics which lead the UK government to believe that the private sector is always more efficient, and that the UK state should not own energy providers; and yet to be happy to welcome the Danish public sector to build, operate and own most of the country’s offshore windfarms, the French public sector to build, operate and own much of the electricity generating infrastructure and to build nuclear reactors, and the Chinese regime (about which it is difficult to say anything positive, except that it controls a lot of cash) to buy into civil nuclear, continues to be inexplicable."

Q2 - what's the most cost efficient reactor design (including waste/decommissioning costs) that's out there at the moment?

Anonymous said...

Behind virtually all newspaper stories(or press release to be more accurate) that contains a statistic is an agenda that's being pushed by either a company trying to sell something or a non-profit trying to take money.

When I see a statistic I usually jump straight to the last paragraph to see who commissioned the statistic so I can understand the agenda before reading the story.

The worst are those non-profits who have official sounding names to make them sound all authoritative and important.

Nick Drew said...

Laban - Q1: rhetorical, I'm guessing

Q2: our longtime friend Mr Wendland will probably give you his view on the several that are out there & you might like to take a gander at this:

Personally I like the sound of small modular - so much more energy-efficient & construction-efficient, but proven technology (more or less) & only the same fuel disposal problem as at present. But I know the security arguments against

Laban Tall said...

I just wondered if there was any serious justification for a government that's created 375bn + new 75bn out of thin air to be so desperate for 6bn of cash, when it means putting the Chinese state in control of a couple of huge radiation sources in Essex.

What could possibly go wrong, in the event, say, of future hostilities between EUSA/China?

Steven_L said...

I just wondered if there was any serious justification for a government that's created 375bn + new 75bn out of thin air to be so desperate for 6bn of cash

Perhaps you're making the mistake of thinking of 'the government' as one big cohesive thing. A bit like when people say 'the government' doesn't really want smokers to quit because of all the tax. Wrong, the DofH does indeed want smokers to quit whilst HMT is probably less keen.

Just because a little bit of HMT / BofE is printing money to dish out to financial market participants doesn't mean the rest of Whitehall is flush with readies.

Electro-Kevin said...


Such lobbying is a way of furthering leftism (in disguise) whilst making the public think it was their idea.

I still think the best way to make homes more affordable is to have fewer people arriving in our country (build them and they will come.) I bet shelter didn't propose that idea.

Blue Eyes said...

I am sure they didn't...

Regarding QE and Hinkley, if one casts one's mind back to the heady days of selfless Coalition government, the nuclear compromise was that new capacity should not attract state subsidy. Further, the gov at that time was trying at least to cut spending so every little helps. Finally, the Chinese WANT to be involved. It helps tech transfer (from the French, lol) and it gives the Chinese a stamp of approval from a respected country to parade around elsewhere. Look - the Brits let us build them a plant, wassyerproblem punk?

This project has been on the drawing board so long that the landscape has changed somewhat in the intervening.

Electro-Kevin said...

I wouldn't like to be the one dealing with the Hinckley dilemma. I think we'll end up eating humble pie - through the nose.

Laban Tall said...

BE - "Finally, the Chinese WANT to be involved."

You say that like it's a good thing. I'm sure they'd like to be involved in our communications infrastructure too, and perhaps our defence industries. I bet they'd rewire GCHQ for free !

ND - ta for that link, it's really good, I remember the chap used to write at the Oil Drum. Looks from that as if the best working "off-the-shelf" designs are Korean and Russian, so naturally they've not been considered. All of them still have ye olde waste problem, though - so why not a one-two of some mass-produced mini RR reactors for 'immediate' use, plus some heavy duty Molten Salt research with a view to a build. Site it up North (or even Scotland)* and create an academic/engineering and literal powerhouse.

The UK doesn't seem to have any real money, unlike China. But we've got a lot of virtual money and that nice Mr Carney's finger is hovering over the print button. Why not try creating inflation in engineering salaries and wages at Sheffield Forgemasters, instead of inflation in house prices and farmland?

(* fascinating BBC2 documentary the other night on the Victorian shale boom. Had no idea there was a major Scottish oil industry when Drake was still drilling at Titusville. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07cb31r http://www.scottishshale.co.uk/)

Blue Eyes said...

I didn't make it sound like anything.

Laban Tall said...

Maybe I should have put the ;-) at the end.

Nick Drew said...

@ "I bet they'd rewire GCHQ for free !

Laban, take a look at this. Truth / stranger / fiction etc


Laban Tall said...

ND - I'm surprised the Americans are OK with that - and all for a bit more on the bottom line. Capitalists, ropes etc.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike electrics they have soul"

Only a Vincent '52 has a soul.
Every dude know that.

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