A charity is calling for an independent investigation to be launched into the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) working practices.
Anti-poverty charity, Z2K, has launched a campaign urging all political parties to commit to an independent investigation, should they form the next government, into how and why ‘misleading’ DWP adverts were approved.
This comes following last month’s ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which found that DWP adverts promoting universal credit (UC) breached the watchdog’s rules.
The advertisements were published in the Metro newspaper and on the MailOnline website at a cost to the government of £225,000l and claimed to ‘set the record straight’ about universal credit, but were later banned by the Advertising Standards Agency for being ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading’.
Z2K is also asking the Work and Pensions Select Committee to undertake a wider inquiry into whether this represents a more ‘fundamentally dysfunctional culture’, one which relies on ‘damaging propaganda’ to avoid engaging with the real experiences of people struggling to live on Universal Credit.
Raji Hunjan, chief executive of Z2K said the next government must engage with the ‘compelling evidence’ that points to the harm Universal Credit is causing. He said:
‘The ASA ruling is a huge win for the tens of thousands of ordinary people who are suffering as a result of a broken benefits system and whose voices have been ignored by policy-makers for far too long.
‘This damning judgment against the DWP, which finds it guilty of ‘misleading advertising’, ‘exaggeration’ and its failure to substantiate and qualify its claims, reveals an attitude which is not acceptable in public service, especially in the department charged with protecting people from living in poverty.
‘That is why we are calling for an independent investigation into DWP’s working practices. If it has misled the public on Universal Credit – its flagship policy – what else is it misleading us on? The next government must engage with the compelling evidence that points to the harm Universal Credit is causing, leaving many people reliant on food banks and others destitute. Enough is enough”.
‘In an election likely to be dominated by Brexit, Z2K will not let this ruling lie and will continue to fight for the people whose voices need to be heard in the political debate about welfare reform.
‘That is why we hope everyone touched by the failures in the Social Security system to back our campaign demanding an investigation. We are a small charity and yet we have called out the DWP’s PR disaster. Now we need your help to ensure that people who are reliant on Universal Credit or other benefits are no longer dismissed and that our call for an investigation is acted upon.’
Photo Credit – Z2K