Charities issue complaint against ‘deliberately misleading’ DWP advertisements

A coalition of more than 80 disability charities has made an official complaint about “deliberately misleading” government adverts for Universal Credit.

The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) highlighted a recent advertising campaign by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which was described as a “myth buster” on the flagship benefit.

The complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) coincides with new research from the DBC, which claims Universal Credit benefit was having a “devastating impact” on disabled people.

The complaint relates to a recent newspaper advertising campaign by the DWP, which the charities say featured adverts designed to look like news articles, describing them as “dangerous to the health and financial security of disabled people”.

The adverts said it was a myth that Universal Credit does not work, but the DBC said research showed the majority of disabled people moving from Employment Support Allowance to the benefit now get less money than they did previously.

Anastasia Berry, policy manager at the MS Society and policy co-chair of the DBC, said the adverts, “masquerading as facts”, were “seriously damaging”.

“The DWP says that claimants can get an advance of their benefit to help them, but it’s really just a glorified loan – and one that must be paid back over mere months.

“The omission of this fact is a major cause for concern and, coupled with everything else, points to serious ignorance from the DWP.

“MS is relentless, painful and disabling and people affected deserve better than this.

“The DWP must stop messing around with its colourful – not to mention expensive – PR operation and focus on what really matters, which is ending the five-week wait and reintroducing disability premiums cut from the system.

“Until then, it’s not going to convince anyone that Universal Credit is working for disabled people.”

A DWP spokesman said: “There is no proof that respondents to this survey have ever received Universal Credit.

“It’s likely that this unscientific and unrepresentative survey will only serve to discourage people from claiming the benefits they’re entitled to and it compares poorly to our survey of 6,000 people that shows 80% are satisfied with Universal Credit.

“All our advertising is factual and designed to increase understanding of Universal Credit. We consulted the Advertising Standards Authority prior to launching the partnership and have reflected their advice.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kirsty O’Connor / PA Wire.

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