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10 Claims From The Leaders' TV Debates, Fact-Checked

David Cameron and Ed Miliband were quizzed on the same show. But do their claims add up?

Ed Miliband and David Cameron were (separately) quizzed on TV as part of a special pre-election show on Thursday night.

Stefan Rousseau / PA Wire/Press Association Images

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.”

Full Fact

The £13 billion increase is actually only about a £5 billion increase once you take inflation into account – and that's according to the Treasury's own figures.

There is constant pressure on the health budget largely because there are more of us living longer and getting ill in more interesting ways. Even so, health spending per person in the UK is up on 2010.

The figures apply to NHS England only; spending for the NHS in Scotland and Wales is decided by the devolved assemblies.

2. Ed Miliband: A Labour government "would inherit a £75 billion deficit".

Full Fact

The deficit, in terms of the headline measure that is normally used, is expected to fall to £75 billion in 2015/16.

But on current forecasts and based on current spending plans, the UK is currently expected to get back in the black by 2018/19.

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."

Full Fact

As of January, there are 1.89 million more people in employment now than there were in the three months before the 2010 election.

That's just over 1,000 extra people in work per day, even counting the leap year.

Cameron's shorthand of 1,000 jobs makes sense – although around 4% of people actually have more than one job.

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."

Full Fact

That's correct: The size of the deficit relative to GDP is expected to be half its 2009/10 peak by the end of this month.

Cameron has previously been told off for not mentioning the GDP bit. That's because the headline measure of the deficit is normally just how many (billions of) pounds it is. On that score it will have decreased by a bit less than half – 42% – from £154 billion in 2009/10 to £90 billion in 2014/15.

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".

Full Fact

The prime minister said there's been a "tiny increase" in the proportion of NHS money spent via private providers – from 5% to 6%.

That's backed up by figures from the Department of Health. The rise has been going on for some time, dating back from long before the coalition was formed.

This may be because the government's health reforms haven't had much time to affect the amount of spending with private providers – they only came into force in April 2013.

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%.”

Full Fact

You wouldn’t guess that’s from a peak in 2011 rather than since the election. It’s more like 6% since the election. That’s small enough that we don’t even know if it’s definitely fallen or whether the apparent fall is just a statistical side-effect.

Net migration from outside the EU has barely changed since 2010, because although there’s been a fall in immigration, there’s been a fall in emigration too.

Either way, we can’t fully rely on these numbers now. We get our migration estimates by interviewing people at airports, and for years the statisticians were only looking at the big airports, missing thousands of migrants via the smaller ones.

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

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