DWP ‘spin’ in the Metro challenged

The Disability Benefits Consortium, DBS consisting of over 80 charities alongside Trade Unions and disability campaigners are calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to end their public relations campaign about Universal Credit which appears in the freesheet Metro newspaper.

In a letter to the Advertising Standards Authority, the DBS have said:

“The advert itself is visually misleading and inaccessible. Given the target audience is those who are out of work, many of whom will be sick or disabled, the lack of clarity that it is a DWP advertisement is disingenuous. An internal memo, reported by the Mirror, claims the lack of clarity (no logo or DWP branding) regarding this being a DWP advertisement was deliberate

These are some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is a disgrace that they are being treated with such disregard. At best these adverts are accidentally misleading at worst they are knowingly dangerous to the health and financial security of disabled people.

We believe there is clear evidence that these adverts are misleading and urge the ASA to take this complaint seriously and act as quickly as possible.”

 

According to the Public and Commercial Services Union, PCS, the government department’s positive PR strategy began last month with a series of articles which purportedly “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC” at a cost to the taxpayer reported to be in excess of £250,000.

Unite the Union had been a constant critic of Universal Credit saying: “Instead of providing a safety net for people on low incomes, Universal Credit is driving more people into debt” and urging people to sign The Mirror’s petition . Unite’s position is to stop and scrap universal credit.

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The Children’s Commissioner has been examining the impact of Universal Credit and an article about the rollout of UC quoting a foodbank worker on their website says:

“The most urgent thing is to stop the 5 week wait. The advance payment the DWP advertise is in fact a loan that you have to pay off across subsequent payments. So people are starting off in debt.”

“And stopping the benefit cap will take children out of poverty, there is no doubt about it.”

While the DWP is seeking to change public perceptions with its UC myth-busting adverts, over the last six months we have heard contradictory stories from the lived experiences of vulnerable families.

But children are going hungry. It’s not a myth – it’s a fact.”

Disability activists in Disabled People Against Cuts, DPAC are taking direct action,  they say:

We are calling on people to join our campaign to dump Metro DWP lies on any day of the week.

Yes, it’s important that we get the DWP lies off the shelves… but decreasing the circulation of the Metro newspaper 5 days a week rather than just one will make a bigger impact on as to whether the Metro does anything like this again!         

If the Metro was a paid-for paper we would call for a boycott but it’s a free paper so let’s just dent them wherever we can. Investigations have revealed that other newspapers were allegedly approached to run this advertorial and declined; which says a lot about the Metro!”

The National Audit Office, NAO recently produced a report  on Universal Credit and launching the report, Sir Amyas Morse said:  “We think the larger claims for Universal Credit, such as boosted employment, are unlikely to be demonstrable at any point in future. Nor for that matter will value for money.”    

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