MPs demand answers on DWP/newspaper propaganda – while disability activists plan direct action

The Department for Work and Pensions’ attempt to hoodwink the public with a covert propaganda campaign to whitewash Universal Credit is falling apart.

You can read about the DWP’s half-baked idea in this article, published on This Site earlier.

Unfortunately for the Department, when information like this gets into the public domain, people react.

So now the chair of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, Frank Field, has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, demanding access to all relevant internal DWP documents.

He wants to know the full cost of the campaign (we understand the wraparound advertorials on Metro will be £250,000 a go but that’s not the full cost), whether Rudd personally approved the plans, and what guarantees the department can give as to the accuracy of the advertorial.

He called for guarantees from the DWP that the unbranded advertorials would not confuse claimants or potential claimants, and he asked for evidence that the department had assessed the risk that the PR campaign could prompt people to sign up to universal credit when they did not need to.

That‘s according to The Guardian, which reported that Mr Field is also concerned about reports that some jobcentre staff wrongly advise benefit claimants to switch from legacy benefits to universal credit even when in some cases they will be left hundreds of pounds worse off as a result.

So you can see there is genuine cause for concern about the DWP’s behaviour towards people to whom it has a duty of care.

Mr Field also wants to know about the DWP’s collaboration with the BBC on a documentary series about UC.

For balance, you should know that the Department has denied any impropriety and claimed that all advertisements comply with Advertising Standards Authority regulations.

Meanwhile, Disabled People Against Cuts is advocating direct action against the DWP’s campaign to whitewash Universal Credit, in line with This Site’s previous report:

DPAC has now called on its supporters to visit locations where the free paper is given away – such as train and tube stations – and “remove or otherwise prevent as many as possible” from being read from 31 May.

DPAC is also preparing a dossier of evidence about the DWP-Metro deal to pass to the advertising watchdog, and pledges to “make sure the Metro never want another DWP advert again”.

Source: Direct action pledge after DWP pays tabloid to air-brush universal credit

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1 thought on “MPs demand answers on DWP/newspaper propaganda – while disability activists plan direct action

  1. loonytoonz

    Frank Field’s committee needs the power to suspend “initiatives” like this, until the committee’s questions have been answered in full, satisfactorily and any concerns arising met and addressed. Failure to do so, should result in the Sec of State being called to the House to answer to all MP’s automatically, large financial outlay like this too should be automatically set before the House, when it’s outside “normal” operating expenses.
    There needs to be greater oversight and transparency

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