The chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, Frank Field, has had his say on the Department for Work and Pensions’ plan for a series of advertorials in newspapers extolling the (imagined?) virtues of the widely-condemned Universal Credit system.
And it is damning.
If you’re not up to speed with the Department’s plan to spread pro-UC propaganda covertly via a series of wraparound adverts on the Metro newspaper – intended not to mention the fact that they are paid-for adverts rather than news stories, in contravention of Advertising Standards Authority rules – the details are here.
The DWP has already tried to soften up readers with a series of articles in local newspapers where stooges sang the praises of the terminally (literally, in the cases of some claimants) flawed so-called benefit. Read about those atrocities here.
The Department is run by Conservative minister Amber Rudd, who exists in a state of public denial of the harm she is doing to millions of people every day. You only have to read her response to the United Nations’ report on poverty in the UK to realise the truth of it.
Mr Field confined his criticism to mention of only one harmful effect of Universal Credit – but it was a doozy: So-called “survival sex” – people prostituting themselves because it is the only way they can find to make ends meet.
This is not a new phenomenon; Ken Loach referred to it in his seminal critique of the benefit system I, Daniel Blake.
Mr Field said: “If the DWP wants to understand the facts about Universal Credit, it could look to the horrific, harrowing evidence we heard. People – mostly women, single mums, students – are telling us that they are forced through sheer desperation to exchange sex for the means to feed, house and warm themselves and their children. Instead of going out to get the evidence for itself, the DWP just dismisses this testimony as anecdote and brushes it aside.
“Rather than wasting huge chunks of desperately needed resources on 10 weeks of advertorial, why won’t the Government just take a look at the terrible reality of the facts we and so many others are showing them, for free, and instead spend that money on making some of its claims about UC helping people come true?”
The answer to his question is obvious.
Because then the Tories would have to admit that the criticisms are accurate and Universal Credit is a failure. And they enjoy crushing poor people far too much to allow that to happen.
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