ON 24 March, two days before the March for the Alternative, NUJ journalist Chris Wheal noticed a table in the budget Red Book showing that families in every single income bracket would be around £400 worse off from the Budget.
Chris, who writes regular updates for the financial media, wanted the exact figures. So he called the Treasury for verification….and they refused point blank to give them. Their reason? They wanted to be ‘transparent’.
He recorded the call. Click here to listen to it.
Chris wrote to NUJ members: “Yesterday I spotted a table in the budget Red Book showing the average family would be about £400 worse off from the budget. Every single income bracket in the country would be worse off.
“These are government produced figures looking at the impact of direct taxes (income tax), indirect tax (VAT, fuel duty, duty on fags and booze) and benefits (Child benefit etc). I asked the Treasury for the exact figures behind the graph. The Treasury admits they have those figures but will not send them out.
“I was so incensed I called back to double check and recorded the call.
“The Treasury clearly wants to delay revealing the actual numbers until everyone has forgotten about the budget.
“What amazes me is that they insist they are not refusing to give me the figures – but then they won’t give them to me.”
NUJ member Rich Simcox, who sits on the PR Industrial Council, said: “The NUJ’s PR code is very clear that this is unacceptable practice. It must be challenged. If anyone has any other examples let us know.”
As Chris said: “These are figures produced for the public at taxpayers’ expense. Taxpayers have a right to see them now. The civil service is supposed to be neutral and serve the country. It’s a disgrace.”
And it makes it even more important to stand up and say to the Government: We demand better. Don’t spin the figures, tell the truth.
Which is exactly what the NUJ and hundreds of thousands of others will be doing on 26 March at the March for the Alternative.
See you there.
To read Chris’s story in full, click here
To read the views of media professor Roy Greenslade, who has blogged about it, click here
Media pundit psmith has blogged about it here
There are Facebook and Twitter links on the audioboo page for anyone who wants to join all the people to have posted and tweeted.