Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

DWP Propaganda Campaign for Universal Credit gets off to a Rocky Start.

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DWP Propaganda Genius at Work.

This week this story came out:

Coming soon: the great universal credit deception

A leaked memo shows that the Department for Work and Pensions is about to embark on a PR campaign to defend its worst ever policy

How to sell the unsellable? How to pretend utter chaos is a plan coming together? How to persuade the public, who just refuse to buy it, to at least keep on paying for it? I believe I have found the answer.

It comes in the form of an internal memo from the Department for Work and Pensions that somehow floated past my desk. Published on the staff intranet just a few days ago, on 2 May, it is signed by three of the department’s most senior officials, including the DWP’s director of communications and Neil Couling, its head of universal credit. And it is that toxically controversial benefit which is its subject.

What follows is an elaborate media strategy to manufacture a Whitehall fantasy, one in which the benefits system is running like a dream while a Conservative government generously helps people on the escalator to prosperity. It begins at the end of this month with a giant advert wrapped around the cover of the Metro newspaper; inside will be a further four-page advertorial feature. This will “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC”. What’s more, “the features won’t look or feel like DWP or UC – you won’t see our branding … We want to grab the readers’ attention and make them wonder who has done this ‘UC uncovered’ investigation.”


Then comes the letter’s grand reveal: BBC2 has commissioned a documentary series, which is “looking to intelligently explore UC” by filming inside three jobcentres. “This is a fantastic opportunity for us – we’ve been involved in the process from the outset, and we continue working closely with the BBC to ensure a balanced and insightful piece of television.” Wading through such adjectives, one remembers how the most important of the letter’s signatories, Neil Couling, told Holyrood parliamentarians that the rise of food banks was down to “poor people maximising their economic opportunities” and that “many benefit recipients welcome the jolt that … sanctions can give them”.

What follows is an elaborate media strategy to manufacture a Whitehall fantasy, one in which the benefits system is running like a dream while a Conservative government generously helps people on the escalator to prosperity. It begins at the end of this month with a giant advert wrapped around the cover of the Metro newspaper; inside will be a further four-page advertorial feature. This will “myth-bust the common inaccuracies reported on UC”. What’s more, “the features won’t look or feel like DWP or UC – you won’t see our branding … We want to grab the readers’ attention and make them wonder who has done this ‘UC uncovered’ investigation.”

No such danger with this three-part series, which is driven by access rather than led by a reporter. When the civil servants’ trade union, the PCS, found out about the filming, it asked if staff could talk frankly to the crew, only to be told no: they would still be subject to the civil service code, which demands complete impartiality. Perhaps this explains an internal PCS note on the BBC series I have seen, which remarks that staff are unhappy about being identified on screen. At one of the nominated jobcentres, in Toxteth in Liverpool, “It is our understanding that there have been no volunteers to take part in the filming.” The risk is that any staff who do participate toe the management line, making the film an advert for universal credit.

The PCS briefing also reports a senior universal credit manager telling union reps that “the DWP would have access to the film before transmission”. The BBC confirms that is the case, although it says it has “editorial control”. When I contacted the DWP it refused to answer even the most basic of questions, advising me to submit them via a freedom of information request.

Here is the DWP’s wheedling away already:

This is Amber Rudd’s own retweet of the myth machine:

The Mirror followed up the story,

Universal Credit union blasts DWP ‘propaganda’ as staff announce two-day strike

A union chief accused the DWP of trying to “cover up” the very failures staff want addressed after a leaked memo revealed plans for a massive PR campaign.

Universal Credit staff have announced a two-day strike with a blast at DWP “propaganda” about the benefit.

Call handlers in Wolverhampton and Walsall will strike on May 28-29 in protest at workloads and staff shortages.

It is the second walkout in three months from the workers – who want 5,000 new staff, permanent contracts and limits on the number of phone calls per manager.

Yet hours before it was announced, a leaked DWP memo revealed chiefs plan to “bust myths” about the benefit with an advertising campaign – at a major cost to taxpayers.

The PCS union, which represents the workers, accused the DWP of trying to “cover up” the very failures its strike is focused on.

General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Instead of trying to solve this ongoing dispute over workloads and recruitment, Ministers are spending thousands on a propaganda campaign to promote a failed Universal Credit system.

Critics were quick off the mark.

Followed by this news today.

Liverpool Job Centre staff ‘refuse’ to take part in Universal Credit publicity BBC programme

Liverpool Echo.

DWP planning documentary series and advertising campaign to ‘tackle misconceptions and improve the reputation of UC’Liverpool job centre staff have reportedly refused to take part in a TV show promoting the reputation of Universal Credit.

Details of the leaked memo first emerged in a Guardian column and were verified by Mirror Online.

The memo explains the DWP is working with BBC2 on a new documentary series, which will be filmed inside three jobcentres.

But according to The Guardian, the programme has already run into problems.

At one of the nominated job centres, in Toxteth , the PCS note explains that: “It is our understanding that there have been no volunteers to take part in the filming.”

The newspaper reports that an internal note from the Public and Commercial Services Union explains that staff are unhappy about being identified on screen.

A DWP spokesman refused to comment directly on the memo, but said: “It’s important people know about the benefits available to them, and we regularly advertise Universal Credit.




48 Responses

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  1. Caxton House cover-up: DWP hid benefit deaths papers from WCA review team

    DNS – 9th May 2019

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted failing to send its own independent reviewer documents that ministers knew would have linked their fitness for work test with the deaths of disabled benefit claimants.

    Following intervention from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), DWP has finally admitted that two letters written by coroners, and a series of secret “peer reviews” into the deaths of claimants, were hidden from the team set up to review the work capability assessment (WCA).

    It is the strongest evidence yet of the need for an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the government’s social security reforms, and for any evidence of criminal misconduct in public office by ministers and senior civil servants to be passed to the police.

    The need for an inquiry and for evidence of misconduct to be handed to police are two of the key demands from the Justice for Jodey Whiting parliamentary petition.

    Read More:

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    May 16, 2019 at 11:00 am

  2. The Specials – Vote For Me [2019]

    Stepping Razor Sound Plate System

    May 16, 2019 at 11:02 am

  3. This Universal Credit propaganda campaign just shows how desperate the DWP are getting.
    But it won’t work. Increasingly people are seeing Universal Credit for what it is.
    A harsh, cruel system, designed to force as many claimants as possible into the world of zero-hours poverty. And no amount of smiling and pouting by Amber Rudd will change this. The game is up at last.

    Jeff Smith

    May 16, 2019 at 11:45 am

  4. […] via DWP Propaganda Campaign for Universal Credit gets off to a Rocky Start. […]

  5. Vonce again ve see ze evil effects of Inhärentes Trotz-Syndrom
    upon ze DWP.
    In ze fantasy vorld of Frau Rudd, all is vell and Universal Credit a vonderful
    gift to humanity. Yet still ve see ze underlying paranoia so clearly.
    Now a great struggle must be made, a false reality created, in order to
    protect ze ego from ze terrible truth.

    Dr R. Heinkel

    May 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm

  6. Grim report for DWP finds disabled people feel ‘forced out’ of traditional jobs


    May 16, 2019 at 2:10 pm

  7. It’s good that the leader of the PCS has come out with criticism of the DWP over staffing levels and also in supporting JCP+ staff, as that’s what any half decent union should do. However, once again the PCS lamely lets itself of the hook by explaining that staff have to tow the DWP line or risk disciplinary measures. I quite understand all this, and also why individual staff may not wish to appear on the programme as they can be recognised. But the point is, under these circumstances the PCS itself, as the representative mouthpiece of DWP staff should be outright condemning the implementation of Universal Credit. Okay, like with any union, the PCS has its first responsibility to its members, but it also has a responsibility to wider society and that includes warning its members that the excuse ‘I was only following orders’ is no excuse at all.

    I’m a very harsh critic of the PCS and some may think this unfair, but it is PCS members who are administering the sanctions regime. Once the PCS begins to loudly and publicly starts to condemn the actions their members are taking in the immiseration of the poor I’ll gladly change my logo.


    May 16, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    • I’m with you. Most of the nasty “reforms” over the last few years would have been dead in the water without PCS members collaborating. If enough people refuse to toe the line you reach a point where disciplinary action is impractical – that’s the whole point of unions ffs. The problem is that most PCS members working in jokecentres and the like read the Mail, Sun, Express et al and really believe in the popular myth of the incorrigible benefit scrounger and act accordingly.


      May 16, 2019 at 4:39 pm

  8. In some areas of the UK, more than 60 per cent of children live in poverty

    Disturbing new analysis shows that child poverty has become “normal” for many areas across the UK.

    Campaigners have been shocked by the analysis not least because it shows that in many local areas well above half of children are living in relative poverty after housing costs.

    These areas include the local authorities of Tower Hamlets (56.7 per cent) and Newham (51.8 per cent), Parliamentary constituencies such as Birmingham Hodge Hill (53.5 per cent) and Manchester Gorton (52.1 per cent), and wards such as Bastwell in Blackburn (69.6 per cent) and Biscot in Luton South (66.6 per cent).



    May 16, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    • Yep Ken I can corroborate this. The school I work in in SE ENGLAND is in one of the most deprived wards..overy half entitled to free skl meals. Uptake of breakfast club increasing (free to these children)
      Other kids arrive hungry in I’ll fitting clothes and worn shoes
      These are the citizens of tomorrow. The government don’t seem to realise they will probably have no respect 4 he society that did this to them


      May 17, 2019 at 9:40 pm

      • The thing is kat, are the kids’ parents spending the money intended for the kids on the kids? There are a lot of selfish people who have kids solely to enrich themselves. Maybe you have even been there, gravy on white bread, biscuits for coppers a packet, clothes from jumble sales… whilst your parents were drinking, smoking… and having a high old time… You even get a cash bonus (£600) oop north for having a kid. Good news for mobile phone shops as you know a lot of ‘parents’ will spend this on the latest smartphone whilst their kids are turning up in school hungry and in rags. It is easy to blame the Government, it is really easy to blame those ‘evil Tories’. but having worked in social services I can tell you that you are not seeing the whole picture. Churning out kids can be a very lucrative business, kat.
        You could throw more and more money at those kids parents and they would still be turning up in school
        with hungry bellies and dressed in rags. What we need is a mechanism to ensure that kids are having the monies intended for them spent on them. Like when aunts and uncles sent stuff for xmas and birthdays and your parents would slyly say “they should just send money instead” but as a little, innocent kid you don’t know what would have happened to the money 😉 Clue: your parents would have spent it on themselves 😉


        May 18, 2019 at 7:52 am

      • And one thing that you find with parents who smoke is that their very first priority is their cigarettes. Nothing, not even their kids take priority over their fags. There is a lot more to this than meets the eye, kat.
        It is all to easy to neglect your kids, and blame the Government – especially when we have a Tory Government in power – and demand more money.

        You should be asking yourself where are the child benefits, tax credits, etc. going. In fact kids, maybe if kids are turning up to your school in malnourished and in rags you should be reporting these kids parents to social services. This is child abuse and will have life-long damaging consequences on these kids. These kids lives are being destroyed right in front of your eyes, kat!


        May 18, 2019 at 8:04 am

  9. Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.


    May 17, 2019 at 8:19 am

  10. Gugle guys stamping on ad-blockers. One of the reasons ad-blocking is so popular is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to load a web page because of all the (gugle) crap. You would need to spend $thousands on a Cray super computer to load all the junk. Nothing in life is for FREE! Gugle and all the other pieces of commercial/corporate/government with their ad-serving, spying, surveillance tracking, logging crap have RUINED the Web.

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    Funding Choices and Contributor will be available in the following languages, currencies, and countries, respectively:



    A View from Mountain View

    May 17, 2019 at 9:17 am

    • Screw Google! Use Bing or better still use Duck Duck Go, which doesn’t track you.


      May 17, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    • Commons civil servants block DNS over DWP benefit deaths cover-up

      House of Commons civil servants have blocked attempts to confirm that an influential MP is opposing efforts to highlight a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cover-up of deaths linked to its social security reforms.

      Disability News Service (DNS) has been trying since last week to secure a response from Frank Field, who chairs the Commons work and pensions select committee, to the cover-up by DWP ministers and senior civil servants.



      May 17, 2019 at 9:04 pm

  11. Something to ad to your blocklist:


    A View from Mountain View

    May 17, 2019 at 9:19 am

  12. Andrew Coates

    May 17, 2019 at 3:28 pm

  13. May 31st, everywhere – Remove Metro newspapers
    News Add comments

    A memo leaked to us shows that DWP are planning to tell lots and lots of fairytales about how well Universal Credit is working. This is not our experience or the experience of anyone we have contact with.

    On Friday May 31st DWP are launching a misleading advertising campaign with a wrap around on the Metro free paper.

    This is costing quarter of a million pounds of our money meanwhile they have robbed millions from women pensioners, disabled people, women and children all of whom have been pushed deeper and deeper into poverty, and despair. Many have been forced to resort to prostitution and crime in order to survive.

    DWP must be stopped from using the media to spread their lies so we’re calling on all of those affected and those who care about the truth to do what we’ve done with the Mail and Sun before and go to your nearest train and tube station or any other locations where the Metro is given out free and remove or otherwise prevent as many as possible to be read.

    This is nothing short of a propaganda war which we must win. Please ask friends and family to help with this task and share this request on social media.

    We are preparing a dossier to complain to the advertising standards authority but let’s make sure the Metro never want another DWP advert again.


    Andrew Coates

    May 17, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    • Unbranded advertising ? The DWP have got some nerve after what they have done with Universal Credit.
      Trying it on with this deceitful rubbish. And no doubt soon we’ll be seeing groups of Work Coaches, praising Universal Credit, with their managers supervising in the backgound.

      Jeff Smith

      May 17, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      • We think universal credit is the dog’s bollocks! We both love it and worship it.

        Zack & Sarah

        May 18, 2019 at 10:19 am

  14. The shocking digital divide that punishes Universal Credit claimants

    Evidence given by CAS includes a client suffering from chronic anxiety and depression who has been repeatedly sanctioned for not updating his online journal correctly.

    People who are vulnerable should not be penalised for having no internet access.



    May 17, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    • but there is a non digital uc service as foi requests prove it they just dont bother to tell anybody it is a option.

      a uc claim can be made over the phone and cc accepted at the jcp no email required.

      like why would you use a online service fully knowing if you get sanctioned you cant afford to pay for the internet thus can not log in and get more sanctions raised.

      it is because it is what the dwp want in the first place and make it as complicated as possible to make a claim and then sanction the crap out of you if you can not get online to update the journal or accept a cc change.


      May 17, 2019 at 9:02 pm

      • Theres another article on this here Superted.

        Vulnerable Scot’s benefits withdrawn – leaving him without food – because he didn’t fill in online journal

        The horrific case emerged after Citizens Advice Scotland went to the United Nations with their concerns over the rollout of the controversial Universal Credit

        “We think the UK Government should ensure there are suitably supported offline options to help people make and maintain their claims, such as over the phone or face-to-face support, as well as home visits.

        “Citizens Advice Scotland also believes there should be a fundamental review of the purpose and efficacy of the sanctions regime and the impact it has on people and services.



        May 19, 2019 at 3:52 am

  15. Sounds like they want 24/7 Job Search and Coachy on your back every single day:

    Andrew Coates

    May 18, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    • If Work Coaches really are going to have to have fortnightly meetings with both the unemployed and part-time workers earning less than 35 hours on the minimum wage per week Jobcentres will have to remain open 24/7! I wonder how many claimants and Jobcentre staff are going to feel about having to turn up on Saturday, Sunday and after 5.00pm on weekdays to have appointments. This isn’t going to last long or get anywhere is it?


      May 18, 2019 at 6:16 pm

      • dont forget if it is not your signing day the dwp has to pay for travel costs 😉


        May 18, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    • Why don’t they just go home with the claimants and sleep on the sofa, so they can make sure they get up early in the morning ? Then they could go down the Jobcentre together and get started looking for work.

      Jeff Smith

      May 18, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      • Electronic tagging is the way to go. The powers that be would know exactly where everybody was every minute of the day. I can just imagine the conversation: “The system has raised a doubt over you Mr Smith. At the time you claimed to be using a workstation at the library looking for work the system reported that you spend no less than two hours in the Red Lion public house. There’s no much point in appealing this decision because the system doesn’t make mistakes and you’re bang to rights my son.”

        Treat 'em Mean Keep 'em Keen

        May 19, 2019 at 10:54 am

    • I’ve never found their help of any use at all.

      All they did was strip my claiment commitment of everything which earlier someone else put on there on the advice of the DEA.

      There are severe problems’ out there and often area specific,combine that with no own transport and other barriers such as age and/or a disability those barriers arn’t going to go away by a Jobcentre visit.


      May 19, 2019 at 3:37 am

  16. A long-term claimant walked into the local Jobcentre, marched straight up to
    the Work Coach on reception and said, “Hi, I’m tired of being unemployed, and I really want a job.’’

    The Work Coach replied, “Your timing is amazing. We
    just got a listing from a very wealthy man who wants a chauffeur/bodyguard
    for his nymphomaniac daughter. You’ll have to drive around in a big
    black Lexus, and the suits, shirts, and ties are provided. Because of the
    long hours of this job, meals will also be provided and you will also be
    required to escort the young lady on her overseas holiday trips. The
    salary package starts at £100,000.00 a year with room for bonuses.

    The Claimant said “You’re havin’ me on!”

    The Work Coach said, “Yeah, well, you started it.”

    John Garret

    May 18, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    • Here we go again, the ever popular myth of the incorrigible benefit scrounger… the scary thing is that so many people really believe this bollocks.


      May 18, 2019 at 11:09 pm

  17. DWP: Teesside families losing up to £200 a week due to ‘cruel and ineffectual’ benefits cap

    Charities have called for it to be scrapped :: Around 2,000 Teesside households have lost out on some money since the cap was introduced

    Families in Middlesbrough have lost up to £200 a week due to the “cruel and ineffectual” benefits cap.

    New figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that more than 2,000 households in Teesside have been hit by the cap since its introduction.

    The government say the measure was providing “fairness to the taxpayer” – but charities said it was throwing families into “severe financial hardship” and have called for it to be scrapped.



    May 19, 2019 at 3:54 am

  18. Shocking child poverty figures for Gloucestershire reveal link with Universal Credit benefit cap


    May 19, 2019 at 1:17 pm

  19. I just came back from the Jobcentre having run into my first ever WorkROACH after a blessed 6 week break from that horrible place due to amazingly timed bank holidays.

    She tried to claim my Jobsearch (Av. 4 vacancies a week) was inferior and unacceptable despite her other colleagues and coaches having signed off on this for months and months now with no complaints.
    She tried to claim that I was meant to be spending 35 hours a week jobsearching and when I challenged that as being a UC requirement and not a JSA requirement I was told I was wrong and that they brought that ruling in a year ago.
    I responded there isn’t much available as I’m looking for part-time work and was interrupted with the accusaction of being on the wrong benefit – that I should be on ESA – which I have tried for and was cruelly punted from with 0 points awarded.
    Lastly I was pressured into being referred to the Health and Work programme – no signature yet taken – is it too late to back out of that or am I screwed?

    I know there are FOI requests that prove the 35 hour rule is BS and that it doesn’t apply to JSA. I know there’s another FOI that states what the minimal acceptable jobsearch is… could my fellow claimants help me find the links to those please?

    If there’s anything about Part-time Work on JSA or opting out of the H&W programme those would also be useful… I plan to go in next fortnight a little more forewarned and pre-armed.


    May 20, 2019 at 2:01 pm

  20. There is a 35 Hour expectation on Universal Credit, less reductions for voluntary work etc.
    But not for JSA where there is no formal work search time requirement.
    If you are referred to the Work & Health Programme,which is mandatory, and you refuse to do it.
    You will be sanctioned. And yes, you can make a complaint / take it to the Tribunal etc.
    But in the first place you will be sanctioned, and your benefit will be stopped.
    So if you can last for weeks and months without any money while arguing the toss, go right ahead.

    Tom Bradley

    May 20, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    • i am on jsa and have 35hr job search on it, and no i dont spend 35hrs looking for work.

      and the whp is only supposed to be mandatory for ppl on benefits for over 2 years.

      they can mandate that you attend providers office on said date and time but they can not force you to sign anything because it is a 3rd party private company for profit.

      the dwp own rules and regs say you dont have to sign anything so if a sanction is raised it will be unlawful and gross misconduct in a public office.


      May 20, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      • But Superted, if someone is mandated to do the Health & Work Programme and they refuse to do it, they will be sanctioned. Lose their benefit payment and have no money. Yes, you can make a song and dance about it. Take it your MP, the Tribunal and even Jesus. But it won’t alter the fact that the sanction will take place. And they will have no money. Going on about gross misconduct won’t alter the fact of being sanctioned and left with no money.

        Tom Bradley

        May 20, 2019 at 7:10 pm

      • every time this has come up i have sent copys of the foi requests and done my mandatory reconsideration in writing stating my good reason for not being able to attend or participate.

        it never went any further and to date have had 28 sanction doubts raised and all gone the same way bar 1 when i done the mr over the phone as wanted to go to tribunal. and all failed.

        you can not be mandated to sign 3rd party contracts i have been doing it even b4 the first work programme.


        May 20, 2019 at 7:18 pm

  21. ‘Hunger crisis’ as UK fails its poor

    A mixture of “austerity-motivated” welfare cuts since 2010, the rollout of universal credit and a failure to act on deteriorating living standards have led to a “hunger crisis”

    “This rise in hunger has the UK government’s fingerprints all over it



    May 21, 2019 at 6:19 am

  22. Government Accused Of ‘Violating The Human Rights Of Thousands Of Hungry Families’ In Damning Report

    Human Rights Watch blamed austerity and Universal Credit for the ‘surge in hunger’.

    The government has violated the human rights of tens of thousands of poverty-stricken families by allowing them to go hungry, a damning report from Human Rights Watch has claimed.

    Through a programme of swingeing austerity-era cuts and the introduction of Universal Credit, ministers have failed in their duty to ensure citizens have enough to eat, the organisation said, warning of a “surge in hunger”.



    May 21, 2019 at 6:25 am

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