Tory Work and Pensions Minister Iain Duncan Smith today faced a second accusation in as many weeks of fiddling the figures in an attempt to justify his savage welfare cuts.
Mr Duncan Smith claimed that figures showed that "many working-age benefits" had risen by 20 per cent since 2007, outstripping a 12 per cent rise in private-sector pay.
He said the increases had cost the taxpayer £6.3 billion since the start of the 2008 recession.
The minister was speaking in the run-up to next week's contentious Commons debate on a proposed three-year benefit cap of 1 per cent, far below predicted inflation.
Child benefit, housing benefit and universal credit will also be capped for two years from 2014/15.
Labour, which has pledged to oppose the cap, produced its own figures suggesting that jobseeker's allowance (JSA) had risen by less than earnings over the past decade.
Mr Duncan Smith claimed: "Working people across the country have been tightening their belts after years of pay restraint while at the same watching benefits increase. That is not fair.
"The welfare state under Labour effectively trapped thousands of families into dependency as it made no sense to give up the certainty of a benefit payment in order to go back to work."
But shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said longer-term figures showed JSA had risen by 32 per cent since 2002/3 while average earnings rose 36 per cent.
"Iain Duncan Smith has given the green light to a £14 billion cut to tax credits that's pushing millions of working families into poverty and now means thousands of part-time workers are better off on benefits," he said.
"Now he wants to hit working families again with his strivers tax bill. Yet this omnishambles government thinks it's right to give an average £107,000 tax cut for 8,000 millionaires."
The TUC said families with two children will be over £1,000 worse off by the end of 2015 as a result of the government's decision to freeze and then cap child benefit.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the decision had already hit millions of families at a time when real wages and living standards are falling.
"Cutting the value of benefits for families means those in greatest need will get less, with the poorest children suffering the most," she said.
Last week Mr Duncan Smith raised eyebrows when he claimed that tax credit payments, introduced under Labour, had risen by 58 per cent in the run-up to the 2005 election and by more than 20 per cent in the two years before the 2010 election.
However figures obtained by Channel 4 News from HM Revenue and Customs, which oversees tax credits, suggested the actual increase prior to 2005 was only 8 per cent and 8.8 per cent in the two years before 2010.
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