Green Party outlines NHS plans as Douglas Ross says he’ll stand at election

A dispute between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak has been making headlines over the last 24 hours – and we’ve just heard the chair of the UK Statistics Authority speaking about it on Radio 4’s Today programme.

On communicating statistics to the public, Robert Chote says that in cases where complicated analysis is being distilled into soundbites, it’s a good idea to ask if the average person would have a realistic chance of understanding it without have to read several pages of explanatory material.

“The prime minister, ministers, basically said or implied that this had been signed off in total by the Treasury, the Treasury permanent secretary has himself said that that wasn’t the case,” Chote explains. “And clearly having that in dispute is not great for overall trust in the dialogue and in the debate as a whole.”

He says it’s not his role to fact-check the number, but: “When you’ve got people getting the wrong picture about the confidence, the independent verification that goes behind this, then that’s not a great place to be.”

For context: Sunak said on Tuesday that taxes would rise by £2,000 under Labour, and claimed “independent Treasury officials” has costed the figure. But a letter from the Treasury’s top civil servant showed the department distancing itself from the number. The Office for Statistics Regulation – which is the independent regulatory arm of the UK Statistics Authority – is investigating.

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