The Advertising Standards Authority has today confirmed that it has formally written to the DWP and Associated Newspapers, stating that the complaint is now under formal investigation and that they have seven days to respond to the key points of the complaint made by Z2K about their misleading ads.
The ASA has confirmed that these ads are under investigation based on four different challenges:
- Whether the ads are obviously identifiable as marketing communications from the DWP.
- Whether 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” is misleading.
- Whether 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” are misleading and omits significant restrictions that are likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit.
- Whether 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” is misleading and omits significant restrictions that are likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit.
The DWP could now respond by agreeing to withdraw these ads and agree to modify any further ads in the future. We believe that the ads are highly damaging and could lead to people who are already living vulnerably to make decisions that mean they are living with less money than they were on legacy benefits.
Raji Hunjan, Chief Executive of Z2K said: “Once a person moves from the old benefits system to Universal Credit, there is no going back, even if they find themselves worse off under the new system. It is for this reason that we believe that these ads must be withdrawn with immediate effect. People are entitled to receive the information they need to make informed decisions and not be deceived by promotional material that cannot be easily identified as DWP propaganda”
For further information please contact Marc Francis 07973 815 272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.