Government's Universal Credit Explainers Banned for Being Misleading

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Department for Work and Pensions has been told off by the UK's advertising watchdog, which found that a series of ads encouraging people to move to the new Universal Credit system contained demonstrably false claims.

The Advertising Standards Agency said the adverts ignored restrictions placed on some UC payments and only mentioned the positive aspects of the restructured benefits system, funnily enough, with the DWP also found to be making efforts to have the ads resemble the editorial content of the papers they featured in as well – a classic shady ruse from marketers the world over.

More controversial, though, was the ads' myth-busting claim that "people move into work faster on Universal Credit than they did on the old system," which generated an absolute wall of text in response from the ASA. Short version: no they don't, as the data this claim was based on only covered a small subgroup of people that was "not representative" of the vast bulk of those currently claiming Job Seekers Allowance.

The DWP has been told to rethink its UC ads and to make sure it has "adequate evidence to substantiate the claims" made about the ease of requesting advance money and having payments made direct to landlords in future, in one of the most comprehensively negative and detailed ASA rulings we've seen. [ASA via BBC]