PRESS RELEASE: The Truth is out. Anti-poverty charity, Z2K complaint against the DWP Universal Credit “Myth Busting” Campaign is upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority

Today, Z2K can confirm that it was right to demand that the Government is held to account for its nine week ad campaign in The Metro earlier this year, in which it repeatedly misled the public on Universal Credit.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has confirmed that there is simply no evidence to back the Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP’s) claims about people being better off on Universal Credit.

The truth is out.  Anti-poverty charity, Z2K, has complaint against the DWP Universal Credit “Myth Busting” Campaign upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Today, Z2K can confirm that it was right to demand that the Government is held to account for its nine week ad campaign in The Metro earlier this year, in which it repeatedly misled the public on Universal Credit.  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has confirmed that there is simply no evidence to back the Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP’s) claims about people being better off on Universal Credit.

Raji Hunjan, Chief Executive of Z2K says: “This 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 judgement 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.

Hunjan continues: “And that is why today 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”.

Z2K has launched a public campaign, urging all political parties to commit to an independent investigation, should they form the next Government, into how and why these misleading adverts were approved within the DWP.  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. In the meantime, Z2K is calling for DWP to apologise for these misleading adverts.

Raji Hunjan continued, “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.”

END

 

Notes to Editors

The issue and outcome

In May 2019, Z2K used ASA’s non Broadcast Codes to draw up a  complaint, which fell under the codes 03, misleading advertising; and referred particularly to rules about exaggeration 3.1, 3.2, 3.3. The ads were investigated by ASA under 4 points:

  1. That the ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications;

OUTCOME: UPHELD BY ASA in part – in relation to the online ads: breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 2.1 and 2.4 (Recognition of marketing communications).

  1. The claim “MYTH Universal Credit doesn’t work FACT It does. People move into work faster on Universal Credit than they did on the old system” was misleading and could be substantiated;

OUTCOME: UPHELD BY ASA in full

Ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 (Qualification) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

  1. the claim “MYTH You have to wait 5 weeks to get any money on Universal Credit FACT If you need money, your jobcentre will urgently pay you an advance” was misleading and could be substantiated, and omitted significant restrictions that were likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit;

OUTCOME: UPHELD BY ASA in full

Ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 and 3.10 (Qualification) and 3.11 (Exaggeration)

  1. the claim “MYTH Universal Credit makes it harder to pay your rent on time FACT Your Jobcentre can give you an advance payment and pay rent directly to landlords” was misleading and could be substantiated, and omitted significant restrictions that were likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit.

OUTCOME: UPHELD BY ASA in full

Ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation), 3.9 and 3.10 (Qualification) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

Z2K’s Demand DWP #StopMisleading the public campaign

Z2Ks full complaint