Politics

Twitter Users Have Made Up Fake DWP Stories (But They Won't Want To Use These)

It was discovered that the DWP fabricated quotes of case studies in which people explained in a leaflet how sanctions – losses to their employment and support allowance – had actually benefited them. In comes Twitter.

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On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Department for Work and Pensions had made up quotes from individuals explaining how being sanctioned had helped to improve their lives.

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In an answer to a freedom of information request Welfare Weekly discovered that a leaflet explaining how sanctions – where claimants are stripped of employment and support allowance worth up to £102.15 a week – had actually benefited them was littered with made-up quotes.

The leaflet referred to sanctions to the work related activity group, who are unable to work right now but the DWP believes will be able to return to work at some point in the future. The department expects them to take steps towards preparing to go back to work, such as attending meetings.

This appears to break the civil service code, which tells civil servants – such as those who work in the department – that they should not "deceive or knowingly mislead ministers, parliament or others".

In a statement, a spokesperson for the department said: "The case studies were used for illustrative purposes to help people understand how the benefit system works. The case studies have now been removed."

It wasn't long before Twitter users started to make their own fake case studies.

Walking 5 miles to the foodbank completely ruined my appetite which fortunately saved me from wasting their time. #fakeDWPstories

Getting sanctioned allowed me to finally shift that excess weight due to being unable to eat. Thanks Iain. #FakeDWPStories

Others decided to go down a route that was borderline absurd.

As a depression sufferer, a benefit sanction was just the kick up the arse I needed to pull my socks up. #fakeDWPstories

After I was sanctioned, I realised I could sing, so I wrote a musical & took it to Broadway. Look at me now Mama. I`m dancin #fakeDWPstories

I was sanctioned for being late, so I built a rickshaw from scrap wood & pram wheels & gave rides. Now I own a bus company. #fakeDWPstories

Many also picked out areas for which the department has been criticised. Such as the increase in zero-hour contracts at companies.

Having to grovel for my benefit gave me invaluable skills in the zero contract economy #fakeDWPstories

"The DWP were right to sanction me because it's entirely my fault there's no work in my area." #fakeDWPstories

Or reports that Atos, who previously completed work assessments, were demanding that benefits claimants could work even when ill or disabled.

The 3 flights of stairs I had to climb for my Atos assessment were the spur I needed to ditch my wheelchair and walk again #fakeDWPstories

"Without a letter telling me I have to attend the work programme without fail I would have never come out of my coma" #fakeDWPstories

Some also mocked the workfare programme, which requires those claiming benefits to work at companies for free in order to apparently make their CV look better and make them more employable.

"I was so happy to get my old job back through the workfare programme AND they saved my employer thousands in wages!" #fakeDWPstories

As a highly trained postgraduate, the #Workfare post at Poundland was essential in enhancing my career prospects #fakeDWPstories

Some were just good fake stories.

"Being unable to heat my home really gets me out the house, I've met lots of new people at my local soup kitchen" #fakeDWPstories

"Everyone said I was too old, but the DWP helped me find the confidence to apply for a new job." #fakeDWPstories

But the award for the top fake DWP story goes to the Huffington Post.

Iain's story is a little embarrassing http://t.co/7lXB9rhcXy via @PaulVale @tahiramirza1 #fakeDWPstories

Correction

The DWP leaflet referred to employment and support allowance. An earlier version of this story misstated it was about individuals losing their jobseekers' allowance.

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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