Friday, 12 July 2013

What Britons don't know about Britain

A new survey has shown that the British public has the wrong idea about many issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration   
Some of the misconceptions by the British public include:

•  Benefit fraud: the public think that £24 of every £100 of benefits is fraudulently claimed. Official estimates are that only 70 pence in every £100 is fraudulent (0.7%) - so the public conception is out by a factor of 34.

•  Immigration: British people believe that the immigrant population is 31 per cent. In fact the UK population is 12.5% foreign-born and 7.9% foreign citizens.

• Ethnicity: British people think that Black and Asian people make up 30 per cent of the population, when the figure is closer to 11 per cent.

•  Crime: Most British people do not believe crime is falling, when actually the Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that incidents of crime were 19 per cent lower in 2012 than in 2006/07 and 53 per cent lower than in 1995. About half of British people think that violent crime is rising, when it has fallen from almost 2.5 million incidents in 2006/07 to under 2 million in 2012.

•  Religion: Many British people believe that 24% of the population is Muslim.  Actually, in England and Wales it’s only 5%.  (In Scotland it’s less than 1%)

Teenage pregnancy:
conception or misconception?
•  Teen pregnancy: British  people think that 15 per cent of girls under 16 become pregnant every year, when official figures say the amount is closer to 0.6 per cent.

•  Foreign aid:  A quarter of British people think foreign aid is one of the top three government expenditures - but in fact foreign aid accounts for only 1.1 per cent of government expenditure.

•  Unemployment benefit:  Many British people think that more money is spent on Jobseekers' Allowance than pensions.  In fact we spend £4.9 billion on Job Seekers Allowance but £74.2 billion on pensions – so pensions cost 15 times more than Job Seekers Allowance.

Source: The Royal Statistical Society 'The Perils of Perception'


  1. Mmm more like a BBC lefty view of the UK, from an ex BBC journo? Like the BBC totally unbiased??

    1. Actually my article is meant to be the antidote to media misconceptions, bias and spin. It quotes from empirically researched evidence that unfortunately many media outlets fail to report. If you have a better source of statistics, please share, but preferably under your real name, as it's important to reveal the source of information.

  2. Hello Jon. I am polish who have lived in Birmingham, UK during 2006-2010. This is very interesting. I have evaluated the same misconceptions as you write. Exactly every one.

  3. Luckily I rarely see the Tabloid headlines as I am a British immigrant living in Switzerland. However, when I do see them, or hear one of the daily Mail 'journalists' on Question Time or Newsnight, it never fails to amaze me that they can get away with misleading the British public so thoroughly. Why do you think they do it Jon? It is as if Britain is being overtaken by the US Tea Party extremist faction of the GOP!


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