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
’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