Labour's Dawn Butler apologises after getting figures hopelessly wrong in LBC interview

20 November 2019, 10:52 | Updated: 21 November 2019, 07:16

A Labour candidate has been forced to issue an apology after claiming there are 3,000 people sleeping rough in her constituency - when the real number is just 248.

While discussing how her party will end the scourge of rough-sleeping, Dawn Butler told of how she had almost reduced rough sleeping in her London borough from 3,000 down to zero.

But Nick looked into the stats and found she was way off the truth.

"I can tell you that in 2007, I had around 3,000 or so rough sleepers in Brent.

"The Labour government invested an extra £5m to make sure we can eradicate rough sleeping. We approached the people who were sleeping rough and we helped them out of that situation."

Nick queried the figure of 3,000 and Ms Butler confirmed: "I think it was 3,000 in Brent. It was a large number."

Nick Ferrari fact-checked Dawn Butler's claims
Nick Ferrari fact-checked Dawn Butler's claims. Picture: PA / LBC

But Nick pointed out the official statistic for rough sleepers in the whole of England is only 4,751.

That is a snapshot taken on a specific day. The estimates from the Greater London Authority - considered the most accurate statistic - put the number of rough sleepers in 2018 in London at 8,855, with only 248 rough sleepers in Brent.

Nick asked her: "You're pledging to end rough sleeping, but you don't know how many people you've got to help? If you want to end a problem, you need to know the size of it.

"You're telling me the Labour Party will stop the problem of rough sleeping, but you don't know how many people there are."

Official statistics on homelessness
Official statistics on homelessness. Picture: GLA

Ms Butler admitted: "I don't know all the figures and all the numbers. It's not actually my area.

"Let's not take for fact what I've just said in terms of the numbers.

"But I can tell you this. We had a number of rough sleepers in Brent and this is what we did to eliminate rough sleepers and we almost eliminated rough sleeping until 2010 and then Labour were not in government."

Listen to the remarkable interview at the top of the page.

Later in the day, Ms Butler was forced to admit she got the figures wrong.

Writing on Twitter, she said: "Sorry I made a mistake on the figures. It was 300 not 3000.

"But as I said the point is we almost eradicated homelessness under a Labour government but now it has dramatically increased. Labour will eradicate homelessness when we are elected on the 12th December."