Aontú deputy leader Dr Anne McCloskey has strongly criticised a series of government advertisements, which attempted to extoll the virtues of Universal Credit, but which had to be withdrawn, because they were inaccurate and misleading.

Dr McCloskey stated:

“In an embarrassing indictment of the policy before next month’s general election, the Advertising Standards Authority found that a claim that people moved into work faster on Universal Credit than under the old system could not be substantiated. Two other claims – that jobcentres will pay an advance to people who need it and that rent can be paid directly to landlords under Universal Credit – were also found to be unsubstantiated.

“The adverts, part of a £225,000 Department for Work and Pensions spin campaign to sugar coat the abysmal Universal Credit system, appeared in the media in print and online.”

Universal Credit, which is running six years behind schedule, rolls six benefits into one single monthly payment. A recent estimate suggested thousands of claimants in the north would be up to £1,000 worse off when they move on to it.

Dr McCloskey concluded: “The five-week waiting time for a first payment is one of the most objectionable elements of Universal Credit it is clear that there is a direct correlation in the increase in families using food banks.

“Aontú stands for measures that lift people out of poverty, not trap them in it.”