Home Featured News Exclusive: DWP Admit Using Fake Claimant's Comments In Benefit Sanctions Leaflet

Exclusive: DWP Admit Using Fake Claimant’s Comments In Benefit Sanctions Leaflet

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Government officials have admitted that claimant’s comments used in an official benefit sanctions information leaflet were “for illustrative purposes only”.

The revelation comes in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from Welfare Weekly, in which we questioned whether the comments used in the leaflet were of a genuine or fake nature.

Welfare Weekly asked the DWP to provide any evidence or information to prove that the comments used in the publication were from “genuine” claimants.

Within days of submitting our request to the DWP, the original information leaflet suddenly disappeared from the government’s website without explanation.

However, we had already downloaded a copy of the leaflet (pdf) in anticipation of the response to our FOI request.

That leaflet included comments from two sickness benefit claimants who had supposedly been affected by benefit sanctions, Zac and Sarah.

Source: DWP
Source: DWP

According to the leaflet, Zac had said: “I let my work coach know in advance that I couldn’t go to our meeting because I 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.”

While Susan had allegedly said: “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. I decided to complete the CV and told my work coach.

“I got a letter to say my benefit would go down for two weeks. I was told it was longer than a week because I missed a meeting with my work coach back in March.

“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.”

However, Welfare Weekly can reveal that neither of these comments came from genuine Employment and Support Allowance claimants.

Both comment’s were completely made up and included to “help people understand when sanctions can be applied and how they can avoid them by taking certain actions”, according to the DWP.

The response to our Freedom of Information request reads:

“The photos used are stock photos and along with the names do not belong to real claimants.

“The stories are for illustrative purposes only.

“We want to help people understand when sanctions can be applied and how they can avoid them by taking certain actions. Using practical examples can help us achieve this.

“We have temporarily changed the pictures to silhouettes and added a note to make it more clear that these are illustrative examples only.

“We will test both versions of the factsheet with claimants and external stakeholders to further improve it in the future. This will include working with external organisations.”


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  1. I have an acquaintance who works at the Job Centre who has been asked to do certain things in order to deliberately antagonise claimants/job seekers, so their benefits are subsequently sanctioned.They are finding the guidance given ‘from above’ almost impossible to deal with, as they feel it is totally immoral, ironically they are looking for a another job.

  2. Well the DWP make up the unemployment statistics too, not included in the claimant count are those on Forced Unwaged Labour schemes (workfare), those sanctioned off benefit (5% a month) and those transferred from JSA to UC (about 63,000). And the mainstream media are complicit in the deception.

  3. i have been sanctioned since novermber 2014 and i only just got a payment today witch was £317.. i appelaed against this but i was wrong when i know i wasnt and now they just carry on as ive not had no sanction. arseholes

  4. Forget Sarah’s Story, they should have an “Iain’s Story” which tells how a
    minister can fabricate an online CV to fool people into thinking he has
    degrees at top universities. Duncan Smith (if that’s his real name) has
    form on this. The prime minister was forced to tell him to stop lying
    after civil servants at his department were outraged that he just made
    up figures to suit his purpose.



  7. Pathetic waste of time. Stupid FOI request and stupid BBC for considering this to be newsworthy. And stupid Stephen Timms for accusations of fabricating quotes. That’s what sometimes happens when trying to get an important message across in a simplified and effective format. It’s quite normal and shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. Get real.

    • Oh dear, do you actually read articles or just troll on them? The DWP have as part of their own mandate a rule that says they will be honest. By creating these two scenarios and passing them off as actual events they have failed their own mandate. The message they have clearly laid out is that it is ok to lie.

      • Different opinion = trolling? OK. This is a non-story; a mountain out of a molehill; a distraction from actual wrongdoing. Anyone who would think that these were genuine comments from genuine claimants needs their head looking at. And so what anyway? It’s like complaining that a famous TV chef doesn’t cook with Brand Name stock pots when he said he did in an ad. The point is the message, and the message had a point. I have no love for the DWP but I see nothing worthwhile achieved by this.
        I’d like to see Welfare Weekly take a look at how the DWP and Severn Trent PLC conspire to obtain money from claimants by way of unlawful deductions from benefit. You know – something that actually affects people’s lives.

      • Mark who are you trying to patronise? The leaflet was clearly presented under false pretences – and is just another example of the conniving behaviour employed by the DWP/JCP.

      • Hi Nick.

        Being expected to pay travel costs out of your own pocket in advance isn’t fair, and is impossible if you are broke. Don’t know the law on this but ‘reasonableness’ should play a part when/if you challenge/appeal any doubt/decision, which I assume you would.

        Lay it on thick before any sanction with a firm letter, or on request for mandatory reconsideration/appeal if sanctioned. You are allowed two periods of sickness per year of up to 14 days each, if that helps. And you can also book two weeks holiday per year, which might be useful.

        I got a sanction decision changed and a doubt resolved by providing evidence that Royal Mail’s delivery estimate of 3-5 days would likely (and did) result in the provider’s second class letters re appointments arriving after the event, causing two missed appointments, which shows that challenging decisions can sometimes work. I also got out of a 2 year WP by being ‘difficult’ – helped greatly by the provider’s staff being untrained, clueless and easily intimidated. You could try picking on your provider – as far as they are non-compliant with the rules. Refuse to sign something and see if they lie that you have to, for example. Or insist on recording any interviews – some staff won’t like it, and they can get cancelled. Look for any reason to make a formal complaint.

        Good luck anyway.

      • Hey Steven. You may mean well, and you need to fill up your website, but I think it’s all a bit frivolous and pointless. Being reported all over the world doesn’t make it less so.
        I mention below a conspiracy – it’s real, affects people’s lives and has been on-going for years. As you are here, would you like me to explain more about this?

  8. The DWP, notorious for delivering skewed information about their methods despite factual information leaks, are now trying to worm their way out of having further misinformation revealed for what it is – more lies.

  9. The real reason this is appalling is that the DWP are not that merciful when it comes to benefit sanctions. A trick they commonly play is to send the claimant for a job interview and schedule it at the same time that the claimant is due to sign on. The claimant is reassured that the DWP will postpone signing on for them, and then gets hit with a massive sanction.


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