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Steve's ITK: Baseless


Steve's ITK

January 14 · Issue #38 · View online

Steve's In The Know: Thoughts from a European tech insider.

FOI request has been answered
FOI request has been answered
Opening thought: Who needs facts?
The results are in for my first ever Freedom Of Information (FOI) request, which I filed late last year with the UK’s Treasury. As readers of ITK will remember, the subject was recent comments made by the UK’s finance minister Philip Hammond.
Talking to the Treasury select committee, the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared to make a link between the British economy’s low productivity problem and an increase in the number of disabled people entering the workforce. A link that I suspected was entirely baseless.
And guess what? The UK government agrees with me.
Here’s the key passage of the FOI response, as brilliantly reported by Business Insider UK founding editor Jim Edwards:
“There is no evidence of a relationship between aggregate productivity measures and an increase in workforce participation of people with disabilities. It has however helped to increase economic growth and it is something we can be very proud of as a country.”
The Treasury also audaciously claims that the Chancellor never implied the link, either (he did, see: ITK #37 on what he said and why it matters). It states: “The Chancellor was not suggesting — and does not believe — that increased participation by people with disabilities has had any negative impact on the economy.”
So, no link between higher rates of employment of disabled people and low productivity in the UK economy.
But what about high levels of employment more generally? Edwards’ report also seems to dispel that myth, too, citing the IFS. It is well worth a read, and thanks Jim for a decent bit of journalism.
Talking of which, the journalism standards of flack-turned-hack Christian May, the Editor of London regional newspaper City A.M., appear to have fallen short last month when he used his column to suggest that, whilst Philip Hammond’s remarks caused unnecessary offence, he was in fact correct.
Writes May: “Hammond was at it again recently, when he said that the UK’s low productivity score may be down to an increase of disabled people in the workplace. Ouch. We winced. Not because he’s wrong, but because it’s not kind to point it out.”
Thanks to my FOI and BI’s follow up reporting, we now know that the Chancellor wasn’t just unkind but factually wrong. Perhaps the ex-flack and City A.M. editor should work harder on getting his facts correct in future, too.
Steve O'Hear
Just researched City AM editor @ChristianJMay. Before editing the paper he spent his career in... PR.

Maybe facts aren't his strong point: he was certainly wrong on apparent link of disabled people and UK's productivity problem.
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Things I wrote
Irish startup SoapBox Labs is building speech recognition tech for kids
Unbabel raises $23M for its ‘AI-powered, human-refined’ translation platform
Sodexo acquires majority stake in French online restaurant FoodChéri
The CEO of London ‘proptech’ startup Goodlord is departing after nearly 40 employees are let go
London startup CityStasher raises $1.1M for its ‘Airbnb for luggage’
TransferWise begins private launch of its consumer borderless account and bright green debit card
Dinghy picks up backing from Balderton for its flexible freelancer insurance
Lab-made meat startup SuperMeat raises $3M seed to develop ‘clean’ chicken
Closing thought: Good Lord!
I’ve only been back to work properly for a week and I’m already causing trouble.
Writing for TechCrunch, I reported that Richard White, the co-founder and CEO of London ‘proptech’ startup Goodlord (backed by Rocket Internet’s GFC, LocalGlobe, and Ribbit Capital), has stepped down. This comes after a round of layoffs that have seen nearly 40 people leave the young company.
A spokesperson for Goodlord denied that White has left, claiming that he is still CEO. However, I stand by my story and expect an official confirmation very soon when his replacement is unveiled, possibly as early as next week.
As always, watch this space.
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