DSS calls pounds 4m benefit fraud pitch

The Department of Social Security is talking to agencies about a pounds 4 million TV and press campaign to persuade the public that benefit fraud is wrong.

The Department of Social Security is talking to agencies about a

pounds 4 million TV and press campaign to persuade the public that

benefit fraud is wrong.



The initiative, which is being led by the Social Security Secretary,

Alistair Darling, aims to bring about a long-term shift in social

attitudes. Insiders say the department is taking its cue from the

successful anti-drink drive programme.



The pitch process is said to be at an early stage, but it is understood

that there is a list of six agencies that includes BMP DDB, WCRS, Young

& Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather.



The proposed campaign would mark a change in direction from the previous

government’s advertising, which encouraged people to shop their

neighbours if they suspected them of benefit fraud.



Instead, the new initiative will highlight the fact that benefit fraud

costs taxpayers pounds 4 billion a year.



The Tory campaign is said to have unearthed a large number of fraudulent

benefit claims, but at the same time it is believed to have provoked

many false and vindictive reports.



A Government source said: ’We want to change the climate of public

opinion towards social security fraud and make people realise it is not

acceptable.



’You cannot do that overnight. It took 20 years to convince people that

drinking and driving is anti-social.’



The Tory government hired BMP DDB in March 1996 to create local

campaigns in urban areas in an attempt to crack down on bogus claims.

The controversial campaign, which was concentrated on bus-sides, used

the line: ’Spotlight on benefit cheats - the free ride on benefit fraud

is about to stop.’



The advertising also promoted a confidential telephone line which people

could phone to report anyone they suspected of making false benefit

claims.



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