Ed Miliband and David Cameron were (separately) quizzed on TV as part of a special pre-election show on Thursday night.
Both politicians bombarded the audience with facts and figures, making it hard to work out who was telling the truth. So BuzzFeed News asked the independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact to analyse some of the key assertions made by the two politicians during their debate.
1. David Cameron: "We have increased NHS spending by over £12.7 billion over the last five years.”
2. Ed Miliband: A Labour government "would inherit a £75 billion deficit".
3. David Cameron: “This government has created 1,000 jobs every day it’s been in office – 1.89 million more people in work since the 2010 election."
4. Ed Miliband: "Living standards are falling."
We've had four years of bad news on living standards, but different measures show different things. Slightly older figures show income falling, but more recent data and forecasts show that living standards are beginning to rise.
The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has given a positive verdict: "[Average household incomes] are finally rising, and probably will be higher in 2015 than they were in 2010."
5. David Cameron: “The annual overdraft has come down by one-half as a share of GDP."
6. Ed Miliband: "I don't think it is good enough that we have 700,000 people on zero-hours contracts."
There were 697,000 people on zero-hours contracts between October and December 2014.
David Cameron separately said that only 1 in 50 jobs are zero hours, but that claim is based on a mix of old and new data. When the latest figures were produced, they accounted for 1 in 43 people in employment.
The number of people in employment has gone up to 31 million, but there's no new data on how many of these are zero-hours contracts now. "1 in 50" would only be right if the number of people on zero-hours contracts is still the same as last year. This seems unlikely.
7. David Cameron: NHS spending on private health providers “has gone from 5% to 6% under this government".
8. Ed Miliband: "People are £1,600 worse off."
Labour have been making this claim for more than a year, but the details haven't really been the same during that time.
You can get a lot of different numbers by using different measures of inflation and different measures of earnings. Labour have changed both since they started making this claim last year — but the £1,600 figure has stayed the same.
This number is about the "median employee". But that person isn't typical, according to the UK Statistics Authority. For example, even when the majority of us were experiencing real-terms falls in wages, about a third of full-time employees who stayed in work got a pay rise.
The Labour claim also ignores taxes and benefits: If your pay before tax goes down by £1,600, the most that your pay will fall by after tax is £1,100.
True, growth in prices has outstripped growth in wages for the majority of this parliament, and people are substantially worse off than they might have been otherwise – but this £1,600 figure is not a good picture of what people have generally experienced.
9. David Cameron: “We cut immigration from outside the European Union – that is down by 13%.”
10. Ed Miliband: "Our figures on immigration were wrong."
They were. Back in 2003, just before the EU expanded into eastern Europe, the Labour government predicted that there would be between 5,000 and 13,000 immigrants a year between 2004 to 2010 (that's net migration, minus the emigrants). Actually, an average of about 50,000 people a year came from the eight largest countries.
Full Fact is the UK's independent factchecking organisation.
Contact Phoebe Arnold, Full Fact at email@example.com.
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