Govt's £47m adspend on benefits under fire

The Government's high-profile state-benefits campaigns were called into question this week as new figures showed millions of people were still missing out on handouts.

As MPs admitted spending £47 million on advertising means-tested benefits since the 2001 election, opposition parties seized on statistics suggesting people had not claimed £26 billion to which they were entitled.

A report by the House of Commons Library showed that the take-up rate for some handouts had fallen - for example, the proportion of poor pensioners missing out on top-up payments has risen from 25 per cent to 32 per cent.

The Government has repeatedly insisted that it has a duty to run campaigns such as the push by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners on the pensions credit scheme and M&C Saatchi's blitz on the new child tax credit, both of which feature pictures of money. It says that its own research shows the ads have increased both awareness and take-up.

But opposition MPs claim the new statistics show the schemes are too complex and the campaigns are designed mainly to portray the Government in a generous light.

David Willetts, the Tories' shadow pensions secretary, said: "It is extraordinary that Labour has spent £47 million advertising its complicated benefits. That is £15 million a year, five times the adspend when we left office. And there are more pensioners not claiming the benefits to which they are entitled than ever before."

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).