‘Their propaganda is clearly not working’: UK Government spends over £4 million to 'airbrush' Universal Credit

Freedom of Information request reveals massive rise in DWP spending on advertising, as a formal investigation is launched over Metro newspaper ads accused of being “deliberately misleading”

  • DWP spent £4,059,109 on promoting Universal Credit in 2018/19, compared to £511,227 in 2016/17
  • Revelations follow launch of Advertising Standards Authority investigation into DWP newspaper ads accused of being “deliberately misleading” by the Disability Benefits Consortium
  • Scottish Unemployed Workers Network: “This spending on propaganda has also been accompanied by a big increase in government funding for challenging appeals by people who haven't been awarded disability benefits.”

THE UK GOVERNMENT has massively increased spending on PR to promote the controversial Universal Credit benefit scheme by 700 per cent over two years it has been revealed.

According to figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) devoted a total of £4,059,109 on advertising the Conservatives’ flagship welfare reform in the financial year 2018/19, compared with the £5111,227 spent in 2016/17.

This follows the launch this month of a formal investigation by the Advertising Standards’ Authority into the DWP over its much-criticised ‘advertorials’ in the Metro newspaper promoting Universal Credit, which have been accused of being “deliberately misleading” by the Disability Benefits Consortium.

“Rather than face up to the overwhelming criticism of their botched reform and fix Universal Credit, the Tories have decided to push their PR operation into overdrive.” SNP MSP Bob Dorris

SNP MSP Bob Doris commented: “These figures are frankly insulting for those struggling on Universal Credit – an ill thought-out welfare scheme which has forced families into debt, rent arrears, foodbanks and destitution.
 
“The DWP has ploughed ahead with the botched roll-out of Universal Credit, despite all the warnings they’ve received.
 
“Now they’re trying to airbrush the utter failure of their flagship welfare policy - spending millions of taxpayers’ money on a one-sided advertising campaign which is now under investigation for being misleading.  
 
“Rather than face up to the overwhelming criticism of their botched reform and fix Universal Credit, the Tories have decided to push their PR operation into overdrive.
 
“Westminster have shown us time and time again that they are totally out-of-step with the needs and priorities of Scotland. The Tory government clearly can’t be trusted to look after the most vulnerable in society.”
 
Speaking on behalf of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, Sarah Glynn told CommonSpace: “We are glad to hear that the UK Government is being investigated over the Metro ads.

READ MORE: Analysis: The DWP's Universal Credit propaganda tells you everything you need to know about this government

“Their propaganda is clearly not working, as the recent Social Attitudes Survey shows people are now generally much more sympathetic to people on benefits.

“This spending on propaganda has also been accompanied by a big increase in government funding for challenging appeals by people who haven't been awarded disability benefits.

“This reaction demonstrates that these 'reforms' were never about providing social security and all about disciplining the working class.”

Further criticism of the DWP emerged this week, as MPs warned that tens of thousands of disabled benefit claimants are still waiting for compensation following a High Court ruling in May that found the UK Government would have unlawfully short-changed disabled claimants by £1 million if its original plans for the Universal Credit rollout had gone ahead.

Independent MP Frank Field, chairman of the commons work and pensions committee, commented: “About 10,000 people are still waiting for compensation.

“Why won’t the government stop fighting this all the way through the courts and just get on with giving disabled people the money they’re owed?”

Picture courtesy of Andrew_Writer

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