The Government may drop its £5 million-a-year campaign to
deter social security fraud following criticism that it gave claimants
the impression that it was easy to fiddle the system.
The Department for Work and Pensions is to consider the future of
D'Arcy's TV, press and radio campaign, amid concern among ministers that
it is failing to deter people who are determined to make bogus
RSGB, which researched the effectiveness of the anti-fraud drive, said
in its report to the Government: "One negative impact that may be the
result of the campaign was that respondents within the test area
perceived benefit fraud as easier to commit. However, it is difficult to
make people aware that benefit fraud is widespread without increasing
their perception of how easy it is to commit at the same time."
The research found that the ads had failed to make "much difference" to
whether the public would telephone the National Benefit Fraud Hotline to
report claimants they suspected of fiddles.
The campaign, which set out to convince the public and claimants that
fraudulent claims were "anti-social", did make "small positive shifts"
among the general public. The number of people who thought that drawing
income support while working was extremely or very serious rose from 48
per cent to 54 per cent.
David Willetts, the Tory Opposition spokesman on work and pensions, said
the independent evaluation of the campaign had showed it backfired
because it had "encouraged the belief that fraud is easy to commit".
Willetts described the £21 million advertising budget last year at
the Department for Work and Pensions as "a scandal" because its
campaigns were not working. He said spending had risen sevenfold from
£2.8 million the previous year.