Thousands of people were sent into panic last month after the BBC reported ‘up to 100,000’ in-work Universal Credit claimants would get no benefits over Christmas. The claim was first made by Paul Lewis on Radio 4’s Money Box programme, repeated by BBC Breakfast, the BBC News website and across its TV and radio output. It was also repeated by Labour, including by Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams…
Thousands of people on universal credit won’t receive payment this Christmas https://t.co/kYxNH5rYOq
— Debbie Abrahams (@Debbie_abrahams) November 20, 2017
Now, Paul Lewis has admitted the story was wrong, conceding that not only were his figures incorrect but that he ignored journalist colleagues who pointed out his mistake. Lewis said:
“In fact, it’s not as many as that number, so I have to plead guilty to that… I don’t know why I assumed that because I have to say colleagues on the Money Box team told me that wasn’t right… “
Are Labour and Debbie Abrahams going to make any effort to correct themselves too?
UPDATE: IDS tells the Beeb to offer a proper correction:
“Welcome as such an apology is, this apology is a small and inadequate correction. After all, having given the department no proper opportunity to rebut the false item, the item then ran on all their news headlines without correction. This should have been broadcast on the news headlines too. Finally, it is clear from the tone of the apology dialogue that they think this is funny, it’s not, for many people would have been needlessly concerned about it.”