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The left's favourite economist Stephanie Flanders tells porkies about poverty in the UK

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 5 February 2023

I cannot remember which future Labour bigwigs she dated when at Oxford but Stephanie Flanders has always been the economist the left puts on a pedestal. This week, she stated that the poorest fifth of the population are now much poorer (in the UK) than most of the poorest countries in central and Eastern Europe…they would be better off in quite poor countries in the European Union.” Natch this was retweeted thousands and thousands of times. Those evil Tories they are just bastards aren’t they? Well some of them are, but on this matter the data just does not support Ms Flanders’ claim. As we live in a post fact world I suppose that does not really matter but just for the record…

According to the most recent data from the ONS which is for 2021 the average household disposable income for the poorest fifth in Britain was £14,500 – household disposable income is the amount of money available for spending and saving after taxes. On that sort of income taxes will be minimal. So the number reflects income from employment, private pensions and investments as well as cash benefits provided by the state. So again for the poorest fifth that is almost entirely wages and welfare.

Now c/o Wikipedia is a map showing the average wage in countries across Europe.  If you look at all countries which used to be in the Warsaw Pact or Jugoslavia and all countries to the East  you will see that the average wage (in Euro) is lower, and in most cases considerably lower than the average income of the UK’s poorest fifth. In Albania, for instance, it is just 412 Euro a month. And that is why large numbers of folks in such countries leave bad jobs there to trek across Europe to get jobs or just to live off Welfare in Britain. Oddly few folks here in Blighty make the reverse trip to places like Albania or Turkey (303 Euro per month) as economic migrants.

In short Ms Flanders was talking total tosh.  But facts don’t matter any more. Facts are probably, in this case, deemed racist. Nobody will dare to flag up the facts instead the “right thing to do” is to retweet fragrant Stephanie’s wise words in a fawning manner.


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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
[email protected]
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