Leaked memo 'shows government launching PR campaign to defend Universal Credit'
THE GOVERNMENT is 'launching a new PR campaign to help improve the perception of Universal Credit', leaked documents have revealed.
It includes a new three-part BBC documentary series and an advertising campaign in a national newspaper, The Guardian has reported.
It is believed that the internal memo from the Department for Work and Pensions condemned the "negativity and scaremongering" in the media, which is blames for putting people off applying for the benefit.
The new media strategy is reported to include a four-page advertorial feature in a national daily newspaper that will "myth-bust" common Universal Credit inaccuracies – but it won't include DWP or UC branding.
While BBC2 has commissioned a documentary series giving a "fresh look" at the controversial benefits system which is due to be aired this autumn.
The DWP internal communications said it has been "working closely with the BBC" to ensure "a balanced and insightful piece of television".
The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants, confirmed to The Sun that a senior DWP manager told them that it would have access to the films before they were broadcast.
It is normal for media organisations to give access to films before broadcast for for factual and staff confidentiality reasons.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC has full editorial control over this series which will be an impartial look at Universal Credit.”
It comes after The Sun launched its Make Universal Credit Work campaign where we have highlighted the problems with the new system.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:
- Get paid faster: The Government must slash the time Brits wait for their first Universal Credit payments from five to two weeks, helping stop 7 million from being pushed into debt.
- Keep more of what you earn: The work allowance should be increased and the taper rate should be slashed from 63p to 50p, helping at least 4 million families.
- Don’t get punished for having a family: Parents should get the 85 per cent of the money they can claim for childcare upfront instead of being paid in arrears.
Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.
Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email [email protected] to share your story.
We've called for the five-week wait for cash to be reduced to two and asked for childcare funding to be paid upfront to parents.
We also want people to keep more of what they earn by lowering the taper rate and increasing the work allowance.
In February, DWP secretary Amber Rudd admitted that Universal Credit's five-week wait for cash had pushed people into using food banks.
Earlier this month, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) warned that people are being pushed into debt due to government mistakes.
While a third of people who move on to UC have had money problems.
A DWP spokesperson said: “It’s important people know about the benefits available to them, and we regularly advertise Universal Credit.
“All our advertising abides by the strict guidelines set by the Advertising Standards Authority.”
If you want to know the basics, here's what Universal Credit is, who’s eligible to claim it, and how the benefits system has changed.
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