Migration, voter fraud and climate change – Farage's claims fact-checked

Nigel Farage on BBC Radio 5 Live
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Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was interviewed on BBC Breakfast on Friday and also took questions from the public on BBC Radio 5 Live. He made a number of striking statistical claims on a host of subjects.

Here we examine some of them.

'We have to provide a new home every two minutes in this country just to deal with net migration'

He did not specify what statistical source this was based on and this claim needs context.

Annual net migration - the difference between people coming to the UK and leaving - in the year to December 2023 was 685,000.

Assuming the population increase due to net migration occurred evenly through the year, this would amount to 2.6 people every two minutes.

The average UK household occupancy in 2023 was about 2.4 people, according to the Office for National Statistics.

So if every new member of the UK population due to net migration last year ended up in a household of 2.4 people and that household required a new home to live in, you could get to a statistic similar to that cited by Mr Farage.

However, this kind of calculation does not take into account some existing homes being vacant, or how many people, on average, live in a household formed by new migrants.

Moreover, analysts say the interaction of immigration and housing demand is complex - and the main impact is likely to be through house prices and rents.

The government’s Migration Advisory Committee, its official advisory body, found evidence in 2018 that a 1% population increase due to migration leads to a 1% rise in house prices.

But the Migration Observatory concluded more recently that “it is challenging to establish a causal relationship between the price of housing and the level of immigration with any precision”.

'Half of those that’ve come aren’t coming to work, they’re coming as dependants'

This claim is not correct if you look at the latest figures for overall migrant visas.

Mr Farage did not specify which time period he was talking about but in the year ending March 2024, about a third of all visas issued went to dependants.

His claim is broadly correct though on the numbers coming on work visas.

Out of all the work visas issued in the year ending March 2024, 48% were issued to dependants.

However, it is worth noting that dependants of a person on a skilled worker visa or a student visa are not entitled to claim benefits in the UK.

And they are allowed to work - although we don’t know what proportion do so.

'Any country that has a large postal ballot will always be open to fraud and intimidation and it happens in this country [UK] all the time'

The UK actually has “low levels of proven electoral fraud”, according to the Electoral Commission, an independent body tasked by Parliament with overseeing UK elections.

Its data shows that of the 1,462 cases of alleged electoral fraud reported to police between 2019 and 2023, 11 led to convictions and the police issued four cautions.

Of the five convictions for electoral fraud in elections held in 2019, one of them involved postal ballots.

'All I do know is that man produces about 3% of the CO2 produced in the world every year… and that it is nuts to call CO2 a poison'

This claim is misleading.

Scientists at Nasa told Reuters in March that human activity has been responsible for around 33% of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

The natural world recycles hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO2 every year. But what really matters for the climate is how CO2 levels change over time.

Without human influence, the amount of CO2 produced would roughly equal the amount absorbed - meaning the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would stay roughly the same.

But since 1750, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 50%. It is at its highest level for two million years.

The UN’s climate body - the IPCC - produces comprehensive reports on the state of knowledge about global warming, drawing on the work of the world's scientists.

The IPCC concluded in its 2023 report that “human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming”.

'You can now go shoplifting and provided you nick less than £200 worth of stuff you won't get prosecuted'

It is difficult to come to a verdict on this claim because there is no breakdown of shoplifting prosecutions, by value of goods stolen.

Under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, there are different rules for prosecuting “low-value shoplifting”, defined as theft from a shop of goods valued at under £200.

The maximum sentence for this is six months in prison, but the offence can be dealt with by issuing a fine (which would count as a prosecution).

There has been a large increase in shoplifting in recent years.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the year ending December 2023 the number of recorded shoplifting offences increased by over a third in England and Wales compared with the previous year.

There were 430,000 offences in 2023 compared with 315,000 in 2022.

In 2023, more than 31,000 people were prosecuted in England and Wales for theft from shops but these figures do not specify the value of goods stolen.

Additional reporting by Tom Edgington, Mark Poynting, Anthony Reuben and Lucy Gilder.

This piece was updated to reflect that the Migration Observatory updated - on 15 June - its quote on the relationship between immigration and house prices.