Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

DWP Fake Work Case Studies: if it is not PR Companies *who* is Responsible and will they be Sanctioned? ?

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CIPR closes investigation into DWP fake case studies

Sarah’s story: Turned out to be fiction rather than fact

The CIPR has closed its investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions’ use of comments and images from fake benefits claimants in a leaflet designed to demonstrate the positive impact of a controversial government policy.

The investigation was launched on 19 August, after a Freedom of Information request disclosed that a number of individuals depicted in the leaflet  were stock photos, and their stories were fictional, albeit “based on conversations our staff have had with claimants”, the DWP said at the time. The institute investigated this case of ‘astroturfing’ – falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support – on the grounds that such practices contravene its Code of Conduct due to a lack of honesty and integrity, and that they bring the profession into disrepute.

In early September, the CIPR agreed to suspend its investigation following confirmation that the DWP was conducting its own investigation.

In a statement published on Friday, the CIPR said it had now been confirmed by the DWP that no members of the institute were involved in or responsible for the leaflet. The CIPR’s investigation has therefore been closed.

The CIPR said it had been told by the Government Communications Service that government comms professionals “continue to be advised of expected standards of best practice in line with the Civil Service Code”.

Sarah Pinch, president of the CIPR, said: “Honest regard for the public interest; delivering reliable and accurate information; and a commitment to never knowingly mislead are vital components of proper professional practice – and I am pleased that in this case, the DWP and GCS have confirmed that no members of the institute were involved.

“This is an opportunity to remind members of the CIPR that they are publicly accountable for the standard of their professional conduct, and the conduct of those under their management. This accountability is a valuable asset not just to members themselves, but also to the public, to clients and to those who employ them.”

The DWP was not immediately able to confirm the progress of its internal investigation.

Ipswich Unemployed Action comments:

If members of the CIPR were not involved, who were?

They must have worked for the DWP, in some fashion, to produce the material.

Were they DWP employees or some kind of outsourced company?

Who were they responsible to – the person/people with the ultimate authority in this affair?

We know one thing the DWP have not done.

To put it simply: they have not responded in any effective way when found out fabricating stories.

That is to sanction those in a position of ultimate responsibility for  making up ‘facts’.

Nobody has – yet – been held accountable.

We therefore have no guarantee that these practices will not be repeated.

Background. CIPR.

On Wednesday 19 August, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) launched an investigation into the actions of communications professionals at the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP). This followed the publication of a response to a Freedom of Information request which revealed that the DWP had published leaflets about benefits sanctions that included comments attributed to named individuals who did not exist.

The Institute sought to investigate this case of ‘astroturfing’ – falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support – as such practices contravene the CIPR’s Code of Conduct by:

  • not maintaining an expected standard of professional integrity and personal conduct
  • failing to deal honestly and fairly in business with the public
  • bringing the public relations profession into disrepute.

After agreeing to suspend its own investigation following confirmation that an internal investigation would be led by the DWP, it has now been confirmed to the CIPR that no members of the Institute were directly involved – or responsible for overseeing the delivery of this work. As a result, the Institute has formally closed any processes to take a complaint forward.

In addition, the Government Communications Service (GCS) has also informed the Institute that communications professionals across central government continue to be advised of expected standards of best practice in line with the Civil Service Code. This code is also supported by the required professional, ethical and moral standards as set out through any individual membership of other relevant professional bodies and trade associations.

As the chartered body for public relations we have a mandate to speak out and investigate the actions of public relations professionals for the public benefit, and we will continue to challenge any behaviour which falls short of the professional standards we represent.

Honest regard for the public interest; delivering reliable and accurate information; and a commitment to never knowingly mislead are vital components of proper professional practice – and I am pleased that in this case, the DWP and GCS have confirmed that no members of the Institute were involved.

This is an opportunity to remind members of the CIPR that they are publicly accountable for the standard of their professional conduct, and the conduct of those under their management. This accountability is a valuable asset not just to members themselves, but also to the public, to clients and to those who employ them.

Sarah Pinch FCIPR, CIPR President 2015
Notes to editors

The original story.

DWP admits inventing quotes from fake ‘benefits claimants’ for sanctions leaflet.

A leaflet produced by the Department of Work and Pensions has been hastily withdrawn after it emerged that it contained fabricated quotations from fictitious people supposedly taking about their positive experiences of the welfare system.

The leaflet included pictures of “Sarah” and “Zac”, who were presented as sickness benefits claimants who had their some of their benefits withdrawn or had been threatened with benefit removal.

“Sarah” was quoted as saying that she had lost some of her benefit because she had initially 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.

When she completed her CV, her payments were restored, the leaflet said. “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.

According to the leaflet, Zac said he had managed to change an appointment with his “work coach” without losing any of his benefit 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.”

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm

42 Responses

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  1. “Honest regard for the public interest; delivering reliable and accurate information; and a commitment to never knowingly mislead are vital components of proper professional practice”

    The above should apply to everyone, no exceptions.

    enigma

    October 19, 2015 at 4:30 pm

  2. Children of the Recession, The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries.

    Take a look at the UK.

    52 pages

    http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc12-eng-web.pdf

    enigma

    October 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm

  3. Welfare system failing thousands of its most vulnerable claimants, MPs told

    Long waits for payments biggest cause of food bank use, and are forcing people including terminally ill into debt and ‘survival crime’, inquiry evidence says.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/19/welfare-system-failing-thousands-vulnerable-claimants-mps-long-waits-payments

    enigma

    October 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

  4. OT but relevant. A dozen councils are on the brink of financial failure, the Local Government Association has told the BBC.

    But declined to reveal which councils were affected.

    Councils insist the era when they could slash spending without voters noticing is long gone.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34574725

    enigma

    October 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm

  5. OT: Tax Credit implications for Self Employed

    Just realized something horrible.

    If you’re self employed and DWP declares that your business is non viable, what other implication are there beyond HMRC comes looking for their money back – HMRC & DWP is engaging in data sharing after all?

    It just occurred to me that anyone who got a grant or took out a loan is probably going to find that those too will be demanded back – can you imagine what the effects this would have? I can’t.

    Are the ConCons trying to wreck/collapse the economy?

    Surely my thinking is wrong?

    Gazza

    October 20, 2015 at 12:08 am

  6. OT: Tax Credits Taper

    Tax credit changes: Who will be the winners and losers?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34572807

    Lists the winners and losers but fails to mention that those earning over a certain amount face a steep taper in deductions to Tax Credits.

    Therefore the expected deductions is going to be worse than is projected.

    The ConCons usual sleight of hand, Aims and Announcements are ‘Truth Light’ – Nothing to see here move along…

    http://www.smf.co.uk/will-the-new-living-wage-make-up-for-the-cuts-to-tax-credits/
    “In April 2016 the same earner will be paid £7.20 an hour, increasing their salary to £13,140 – a sizeable £1,280 increase, thanks in part to changes in the personal allowance. But their tax credit entitlement will be changed substantially. The new, lower threshold of £3,850 combined with the steeper taper rate of 48% mean that their tax credit entitlement will be much less generous. In total this reduces their tax credits to £6,425, with their final income lowered significantly from £21,603 in 2015/16 to £20,324 in 2016/17.

    But the Chancellor’s announcement was that the Living Wage would exceed £9 per hour by 2020/21, to reach 60% of median earnings. With working age benefits frozen, would the much higher Living Wage of £9.35 mean the family was now better off than they were in 2015/16? The answer is again no – their income in 2020/21 would still be lower (even in nominal terms) than it was in 2015/16.

    The difficulty is that the family wouldn’t be able to keep all of their gross wage increase. In fact, they would lose a great deal of it. The earner is eligible to pay both Income Tax and National Insurance, reducing the gain by 32%. When we combine this with the new, steeper, tax credit taper rate of 48%, they lose 80% of any additional gross income.”

    Gazza

    October 20, 2015 at 8:19 am

    • Gazza thanks for posting the link to the winners and losers, we were talking about this in the food bank, of course there was for and against .

      enigma

      October 20, 2015 at 4:03 pm

  7. The House of Lords could be suspended or flooded with Tory peers if it takes the ‘nuclear option’ of killing off George Osborne’s tax credits cuts next week, government sources have warned.

    Furious Conservatives are threatening retaliation if peers decide to take the unprecedented step of using a so-called ‘fatal motion’ to wreck the Chancellor’s plans to slash the welfare bill.

    Insiders have told The Huffington Post UK that the Lords will face a huge backlash should they vote to block the tax credits cuts next Monday.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/10/19/tories-threaten-to-suspend-house-of-lords-if-it-kills-off-tax-credits_n_8332674.html

    enigma

    October 20, 2015 at 10:29 am

    • Looks like soft brown stuff is about to hit the fan.

      Mister Middlesex

      October 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

    • Osborne refuses to back down on cuts to tax credits

      Chancellor tells group of backbench Tory MPs that if his changes are not passed £15bn worth of cuts will have to be found.

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/oct/19/chancellor-grilled-by-1922-committee-over-tax-credits-cuts

      enigma

      October 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

      • Ah a GidIdiot Moment…

        MPs call for change [it won’t be substantial but could appear to be so for appearances sake] – Answer GidIdiot says no we The “SS GidIdiot Titanic” are pressing ahead at full speed damn the Iceburgs

        Lords call for change – Answer GidIdiot says no we The “SS GidIdiot Titanic” are determined to stay the course and “full speed ahead and damn the Iceburgs!”

        The Public calls for a change – Answer GidIdiot says “Who’s this Public? I am the Public! – full speed!”

        An impressive list I must say

        Gazza

        October 20, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      • There is an opposition day debate on Tax Credit plans today and no doubt figures will be mentioned re losses that working families will receive. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) are just two such estimates of this in the public domain.

        YET none of these estimates takes into account the Conservatives Pay (MORE) to Stay policy that sees families with an income of over £30k per year and living in social housing seeing their rent increase from social rent to gross market rent.

        https://speye.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/pay-more-to-stay-230-pw-rent-increase/

        enigma

        October 20, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      • Also

        It seems the government is no longer concerned with maintaining that illusion, or preserving the facade of democracy.

        http://www.welfareweekly.com/tories-threaten-to-suspend-house-of-lords-if-peers-block-tax-credits-cuts/

        ken

        October 21, 2015 at 12:14 am

  8. Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2015 at 10:36 am

    • JJ JOOP. Don’t forget that MONSTER set up UJM. It must at some stage pass through their servers in Bluffton.

      Mister Middlesex

      October 21, 2015 at 10:02 am

  9. All:

    Check out section 3 of this answer to an FOI request:

    Monster is physically able to access all UJ jobseekers accounts
    whether the jobseeker has given permission or not.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/293099/response/721913/attach/html/3/Universal%20Jobmatch%20DWP%20Staff%20Access%20Policy%20Final%20April%202014.pdf.html

    jj joop

    October 20, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    • Need I say it again JJ ! it is possible to delete your account, if one is worried about this news.

      enigma

      October 20, 2015 at 2:12 pm

  10. ot

    how long does it take for an esa medical as im still getting what i was on jsa and will not get the 103 a week until i have been put in to 1 of the groups.

    been near a year now and still sending sick notes, docs so pissed off get them for 3 months now 😉

    its like the wp and they forgot me again pmsl 😉

    superted

    October 20, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    • You’ll no doubt receive a letter from Maximus, but who knows when. but heres some info which may help you.

      Essential information for ESA claims, assessments and appeals.

      https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/1560/

      enigma

      October 20, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    • This one too Superted

      Sick and disabled people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG), claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) will see payments cut by £30 a week, to bring the benefit in line with the current Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) rate.

      https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/wrag-cuts-will-lead-to-more-tragedies-says-debbie-abrahams/

      enigma

      October 20, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      • when does this come in? prob why not had anything from them tbh tho ill get in the other group or try anyway 😉

        superted

        October 20, 2015 at 8:08 pm

      • enigma

        October 20, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      • ill ring them and demand my medical then bet not see that 1 coming pmsl 😉

        must owe me over 1k now 😉

        superted

        October 20, 2015 at 8:27 pm

      • You could try this but don’t get your hopes up 🙂

        Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

        Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.

        You could get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week.

        The rate depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself.

        You’ll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get. Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you’re getting the right support. – you know what that means.

        https://www.gov.uk/pip

        enigma

        October 20, 2015 at 8:37 pm

      • If you phone maximus and demand an assessment you’ll be the first one in history 🙂

        enigma

        October 20, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      • You could get a £50 fine and have to repay overpaid benefits if you don’t report changes and are overpaid as a result.

        thats nice of them so if they fuck it up you get the fine pmsl

        superted

        October 20, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      • Talking about over payments, a few people here have received letters from the DWP telling them that they have been overpaid, for income support, ESA, or DLA, so have to pay DWP back. some may be true but we know the DWP.

        enigma

        October 20, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      • they still after 1500 quid in overpayments my mum had 10 fkn years ago, just done on purpose to then put u in the shit when have to pay it all back.

        superted

        October 20, 2015 at 9:07 pm

      • No one should trust DWP, as you know superted, I would check it out, (not with DWP), if I was told I was overpaid. but we know many people wouldn’t check it out.

        enigma

        October 20, 2015 at 9:17 pm

  11. i miss my sanctions lol

    superted

    October 20, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    • Maybe they’ll think of a new to reason to sanction, “because you still exist”

      enigma

      October 20, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      • iv never lost 1 yet 😉

        superted

        October 20, 2015 at 8:09 pm

  12. The Tories are removing twice as many people from the electoral register in Britain’s poorest areas as the richest.

    The policy could disenfranchise the poorest parts of the country

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-tories-are-removing-twice-as-many-people-from-the-electoral-register-in-britains-poorest-areas-a6701446.html

    enigma

    October 20, 2015 at 8:28 pm

  13. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has raised China’s controversial human rights record in a meeting with President Xi Jinping.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-raises-human-rights-record-with-chinese-president-xi-jinping-a6701921.html

    enigma

    October 20, 2015 at 9:40 pm

  14. http://www.liquidass.com/liquid-ass

    shit for ur pip deploy liquid ass 😉

    superted

    October 20, 2015 at 9:46 pm

  15. More Tory rubbish,MP Heidi Allen talks of Conservative values,cutting the cloth Osbourne running a surplus while telling everyone else to take the risk including the now off the scene Lord Freud who’s name is easily mistaken for what he is and why he’s now disappeared.

    Thatcherism created this economy and now people are having to pay for it,the Tories say they are the party of working people,but the truth is the party of land ownership the only thing that’s working in their world is the horses.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34577535

    ken

    October 20, 2015 at 11:38 pm

  16. Number of London’s ‘working poor’ surges 70% in 10 years

    Housing costs worsen poverty in the capital despite record numbers in jobs as study finds work barely pays for 1.2 million Londoners

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/oct/21/number-of-londons-working-poor-surges-70-in-10-years

    enigma

    October 21, 2015 at 8:06 am

  17. A shocked welfare rights worker, posting on Rightsnet, has revealed how his client had their personal independence payment (PIP) appeal refused because of the amount of time the claimant allegedly spent on Facebook.

    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3172-pip-refused-for-spending-too-much-time-on-facebook

    enigma

    October 21, 2015 at 8:18 am

    • I posted over at JV how this will be overturned – “Equality of Arms” an “Error of Law”, but further this is hearsay and not admissible, it was her partner and no effort was made to allow a counter.

      I suspect the judge is due a stiff talking to by the senior judges for making such a basic basic mistake and wasting court time in the appeal and resitting it.

      DWP will be pleased though, a temp stay of execution in losing the case. Every little bit helps as they say…

      Gazza

      October 21, 2015 at 9:59 am

      • I seen your post on JV, we can see they will try anything to stop someones benefit, especially in this case where it was not the fault of the accused.

        enigma

        October 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

  18. MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are expected to be granted new rights to tap devices under the Investigatory Powers Bill – which could be presented next month.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/613500/security-hacking-GCHQ-smartphones-computers-Investigatory-Powers-Bill

    enigma

    October 21, 2015 at 8:58 am


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