You might have spotted this tweet from the Conservatives last week:

It’s a familiar theme: the party points to lower public sector borrowing rates alongside other positive signs for the economy.

It’s true that July 2018 saw the public sector in surplus by £2.0 billion. And that is the largest July surplus since 2000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It’s also true that unemployment is at its lowest rate since 1974 (although it looks like the number of people on zero-hours contracts has quadrupled since records began in 2000.)

But anyone with a beady eye on their payslip in recent years might be a bit surprised to see the phrase “better pay” in the Conservatives’ latest tweet.

When the party took office in 2010, the average Brit earned £467 a week. The latest figures from the ONS show that we now take home £460 a week. (Both stats are in 2015 prices.) In other words, average wages have gone down in real terms during the eight years of Conservative-Lib Dem and Conservative governments.

So we assume this tweet can’t be referring to that.

Our understanding is that the Conservatives are basing the “better pay” claim on a comparison between the latest figures for 2018 and the equivalent stats for last year.

Between April to June 2017 and April to June 2018, in real terms (that is, adjusted for consumer price inflation), regular pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 0.4 per cent and total pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 0.1 per cent.

It’s hard to see why the party would shout about “better pay” when workers’ income has gone up by such a tiny amount over the last year. And in our view, it’s a bit misleading to make the claim at all when weekly earnings are actually 1.3 per cent lower now in real terms than they were when the Conservatives took office in 2010.