DWP uses fake benefit claimants for sanctions leaflet

18 August 2015

A leaflet containing quotations from people who have supposedly had positives experiences has been withdrawn as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) admit to making up false stories of fictional benefit claimants to ¬illustrate the impact of benefit sanctions.

After a Freedom of Information request by specialist website Welfare Weekly, the DWP confessed to featuring fake examples of benefit claimants. The department issued a statement explaining that they were not real claimants, but that they used the stories for “illustrative purposes only”. Following this query the original leaflet was removed from the DWP website.

According to the sanctions system introduced by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith – if people fail to meet the Governments requirements for jobseekers, they will lose their benefits for up to three years, according to the BBC.

Leaflets demonstrating the result of benefit sanctions included pictures of claimants “Sarah” and “Zac”, who were sickness benefits claimants and either, had their some of their benefits withdrawn or were threatened with benefit removal.

“Sarah” quoted that she had lost some of her benefits because as she failed to produce a CV. “I didn’t think a CV would help me but my work coach told me that all employers need one. I didn’t have a good reason for not doing it and I was told I’d lose some of my payment,” she said.

She then expressed how thrilled she was after completing her CV which resulted in her payments being restored – “My benefit is back to normal now, and I’m really pleased with how my CV looks. It’s going to help me when I’m ready to go back to work,” she was quoted as saying.

Likewise, Zac explained how he was able to change an appointment with his “work coach” without losing out on any payments because he had a hospital appointment. “I had a good reason for not going to the meeting and proof of the appointment. My benefit payment hasn’t changed and we booked another meeting I could get to.”

Learning disability charity Mencap have accused the DWP of displaying “unacceptable” behaviour and of misleading the public by giving them “an unrepresentative view of the sanctions regime and its impact on disabled people”.

Find out more here.