DWP admits using ‘fake’ claimants in benefit sanctions leaflet

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has admitted using made-up stories from fictional claimants to demonstrate the positive impact of benefit sanctions.

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

One leaflet featured a welfare claimant, “Sarah”, who said she was “really pleased” a cut to her benefits had encouraged her to improve her CV.

The DWP pulled the original information leaflet from the government’s website within days of the FOI request being submitted and has now admitted the claimants were not real people and that the stories were for “illustrative purposes only”.

Sarah's storyThe leaflet features the apparent stories of two sickness benefit claimants, Sarah and Zac.

“Sarah” - whose story features alongside a woman’s picture - says she failed to complete a CV despite agreeing to do so on her work “action plan”.

“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,” she says.

Sarah says her benefits were cut for two weeks, but now she is “really pleased with how my CV looks” and it will really help her find a job.

Zac, meanwhile, says he let his work coach know when he was going to miss a meeting and because he did so, “my benefit payment hasn’t changed”.

Zac's storyAccording to Welfare Weekly, the response to its Freedom of Information request from the DWP said the images used were “stock photos and along with the names do not belong to real claimants”.

The DWP later said in a statement: “The case studies were used for illustrative purposes to help people understand how the benefit system works. They’re based on conversations our staff have had with claimants.

“They have now been removed to avoid confusion”.

Share icon
Share this article: