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Monday, 2 December 2013

Move the goalpost and the problem is solved


800,000 people ‘lifted’ out of fuel poverty – by redefining it

Senior Woman Warming Hands By Fire At Home
The UK is second only to Estonia among European countries for the number of people struggling to pay their energy bills

When the statistics show a figure that is not acceptable, or embarrassing, governments (of all political positions) have a very simple solution. The answer to the problem is "move the goal posts" and in this way, the offending information can be manipulated to reflect the picture as the incumbent government would prefer it to be rather than what it actually is. The natural extension of this, is that when your new calculation becomes problematic, it is always possible to revert to the previous calculation and choose whichever figure is the most acceptable. The classic example of this subterfuge is the way in which RPI and CPI are interchangeable for government  to use the lowest figure for the indexation of pay increases, or pensions or other benefits.
The same stratagem has been used for decades to demonstrate how unemployment continues to fall since Thatcher moved the goalposts to change the way in which the number of unemployed was calculated. Almost overnight, nearly one million people disappeared from sight and from the unemployment register. More recently, the ConDem coalition government have created another deception to produce figures that "prove" hundreds of thousands of jobs and "new job opportunities" have been created within the economy, demonstrating how the economy has turned the corner, the green shoots of recovery are there and that their strategy of austerity actually works.
This latest manipulation of figures to "lift 800,000 people out of fuel poverty" is just another cynical deception by a crass and calculating nasty party government. The fact is that those people who were cold yesterday because they could not afford to heat their homes to the extent necessary, are still cold today and for the same reason. It is neither here nor there that the governments new figure completely excludes and overlooks them.
The sad truth and compelling indictment of this government, and perhaps politicians generally, is that they believe (or maybe they don't) that the British people actually accept these lies and distortions as facts and that there really has been a reduction in unemployment, or an increase in jobs, or that people who were cold yesterday have suddenly found the means to keep themselves and their homes warm.
It is all too easy for an MP on £66,396.00 per year, plus expenses and allowances and in receipt of an additional Ministerial salary (and car) to consider that fuel poverty is just a relative term which can be manipulated in the name of expediency.
To those who every day experience fuel poverty with the associated  heat or eat choices, it is not just a question of statistics.