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Misleading Universal Credit ads banned by ASA

06 November 2019

Advertisements claiming to 'set the record straight' about universal credit have been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency for being inaccurate and misleading.

The ASA received 44 complaints about newspaper and online ads placed by the government which claimed that people on universal credit moved into employment more quickly - something the ASA said "did not accurately reflect the evidence".

Other adverts claimed that Universal Credit made it easier to pay rent on time as Job Centres could give advance payments and pay rent directly to landlords. The ASA ruled that signficant restrictions on alternative payment arrangements meant that such payments were only available to a tenth of claimants. 

The ASA said: "We considered that readers would understand the claim to mean that under UC the option to have rent paid directly to landlords was generally available without restriction to all claimants who wanted it."

Michael Paul, DRUK's Head of Advice and Information said: "Universal Credit has been deeply flawed from the start. It’s long been clear that back to work initiatives, with their expensive, inefficient and stressful assessment processes, perform no better than when the job centres provide the support themselves. Rather than spending taxpayers' money on misleading the public, we would ask the government to instead concentrate on reforming Universal Credit to really support those who claim it.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said it was disappointed by the ban.