Sun headline on low pay is more accurate than BBC Scotland headline but both reports are ill-informed

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Yesterday the Sun headlined:

DARK WAGES Nearly 37,000 Scots workers may have been paid less than the minimum wage last year

BBC Scotland headlined:

Almost 37,000 Scots paid less than minimum wage

Spot the mistakes? Yes, 37 000 ‘may have been’ paid less than the minimum wage is important. Both were reporting on a UK-wide Citizens Advice survey and both stupidly accepted that you could just work out the Scottish figure as a percentage of the UK total because, presumably, Scotland is essentially the same just smaller. So, the Sun headline is more accurate. There’s one for the defenders of the BBC. We don’t see what percentage they used. No doubt that was wrong too.

Note that although it was a UK study wrongly used to generate a Scottish story it then bizarrely ended up on the UK page as if purely Scottish (above).

While the Sun repeated their ‘may have been’ disclaimer, BBC Scotland repeated the sin with:

Watchdogs have called for a minimum wage “legal reality” as figures show 37,000 people in Scotland were paid less than the statutory rate last year.

Now, any 12-year-old will tell you what that’s bad science. You shouldn’t go around writing news based on lazy assumptions like that especially if you think journalism might require a bit of context and a bit of fact-checking. Here’s some:

8% of the population yet 28% of the living -wage employers

Only Scotland and Wales pay the living wage to all NHS employees and Scotland was first to pay the living wage to all public-sector employees. Recent consultation on taxation suggests that this group will also be protected from any tax increases.

Make the NHS a living wage employer says UNISON

Scottish care workers have been receiving the Living Wage of £8.45 per hour since October 2016 and will now [unlike in rUK] receive the same rate for all ‘sleepover hours worked. This will make a big difference to around 40 000 workers. Most are women.

Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

11 thoughts on “Sun headline on low pay is more accurate than BBC Scotland headline but both reports are ill-informed

  1. It still leaves me shocked the way they just continually get away with warping the ‘truth’, and that people still believe news headlines. The hostility to Scotland the BBC demonstrates is just so generalised and accepted.

    On another note, in case you haven’t seen this crowdfunder – for litigation against the uk government in the event they refuse a section 30 order – they have put a time limit on it, and will not collect donations if they don’t reach their target by that time, if it is needed. They are using the top solicitor and Advocate for the action, so even if doesn’t reveal their strategy they must have some decent legal arguments to put forward. Link for anyone that wants to read about it or donate:

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s fair enough, of course, but it was the fact that they are using the same Advocate and Solicitor as the recent court cases against the uk government, and that the money goes direct to the solicitors firm that makes it seem a legitimate enterprise (as they’d be the people the Scottish government would probably use).

        There is also the aspect of how it looks to the wider public – leaving everything up to the SNP can make it seem like just political manoeuvring on their part, rather than them acting on our behalf. That’s how the media will portray it – it’s just the SNP being hysterical, there is no demand for it etc. If the actual litigation has already begun by ‘the people’, funded by them, then you have already started the ‘will of the people’ push, and shown that there is a serious desire for the referendum to take place. Makes it harder for the media to paint the SNP as being alone, and only doing it for political point scoring.

        I like the idea that this is taking action in anticipation of events, instead on the continual reaction we always seem to be left with. It will mean the threat of legal action is already there for when decisions are being made, so the political decisions will also be based on the need to defend them in court. The time constraint given in the crowdfunder also gives everyone a deadline to work with, something that can’t necessarily be done politically.

        So, there are a few things that warmed me to the idea of it, though I admit to not knowing who the group is that is hosting the crowdfunder – I’m guessing it’s just a made up group, because none of the money goes to them anyway. It’s always a risk though.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The scottish government would use the Lord Advocat The Rt. Hon. James Wolffe QC.

        The crowd funder could be used to fund a legal action designed to fail. Orchestrated by agents of Westminster.
        It succeeds and increases pressure on the Scottish Government to hold the referendum at a time not of it’s choosing, before support has built.

        This whole thing reeks of Westminster interference.


  2. The UK data was originally published in April 2019 by the UK Government’s Low Pay Unit, based on HMRC data which has LOTS of caveats. It’s a survey of 1% of the HMRC data on UK workers.
    The so-called Scottish result was scaled using population data.

    So to summarise – a tiny 1% survey of UK data, scaled by population. Remind you of anything? #GERS

    Liked by 1 person

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