Austerity ads? Tories’ benefit cuts minister spends £8.5m on fuzzy purple monster
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will launch a costly new television ad on Wednesday night featuring a Disney-like character known as “Workie.”
The purple creature, which is meant to be a “striking physical embodiment of the workplace pension,” is intended to raise awareness about the government’s new workplace pension policy.
Critics have ridiculed the new ad campaign for being “childish” and a waste of money at a time when the DWP is drastically cutting welfare for disabled people and other vulnerable citizens.
In an understated criticism, Labour’s Shadow Pension Minister Nick Thomas-Symonds described the multi-million pound advertising campaign as “inefficient.”
“Getting workplace pensions right is an important job and auto-enrolment brings great benefits, so the government is right to do some public awareness campaigning.”
“But perhaps spending £8.45 million on the UK’s most expensive monster is not the most effective or efficient way to do this,” he added.
Twitter users were more direct in their scathing assessment of the purple beast.
“So in this new #workie ad, does he starve to death after being sanctioned, or take his own life after being hounded for council tax arrears?” asked one Twitter user.
So in this new #workie ad, does he starve to death after being sanctioned, or take his own life after being hounded for council tax arrears?— RogueCoder (@RogueCoder250) October 21, 2015
“This is Workie. IDS [Iain Duncan Smith] has spent £8.5 million to bring this propaganda abomination into the world during an age of austerity,” tweeted another.
This is Workie. IDS has spent £8.5m to bring this propaganda abomination into the world during an age of austerity. pic.twitter.com/9zg97sPFqa— Angry Salmond (@AngrySalmond) October 21, 2015
IDS has faced a barrage of criticism from disability rights activists for his slashing of benefits for disabled people and unveiling new plans to tax disability welfare payments.
A United Nations committee will visit the UK over the next month to investigate “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people.
Britain is the first country to face a high-level inquiry by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
IDS has come under fire for the number of deaths and suicides allegedly linked to the withdrawal of government welfare. The DWP published data in August that showed nearly 90 people a month died after losing their benefits between 2011 and 2014.
Pensions Minister Baroness Altmann defended the “Workie” ad campaign as “fun and quirky.”
“This is a fun and quirky campaign, but behind it lies a very serious message,” she said.
“We need everyone to know they are entitled to a workplace pension – and we need all employers to understand their legal responsibility to their staff, but also to feel more positive about engaging with workplace pensions.”