D'Arcy's benefits ads fail to deter fraudsters

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

claims.



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.



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