Following a freedom of information request, Britain's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was forced to admit that a leaflet detailing the experiences of two people who allegedly had positive experiences with benefit sanctions was fabricated, with fake quotes made up to promote the government's policies.
The leaflet featured the profiles of two people, 'Sarah' and 'Zac' who had quotes attributed to them, speaking about the positives aspects of them having their benefits slashed.
In one story, 'Sarah' is quoted as being "really pleased" that a cut in her government benefits encouraged her to update and improve her CV.
The leaflet reads:
"It's going to help me when I'm ready to go back to work."
The other example, attributed to a person named 'Zac' spoke of how the benefits sanctions system was working well and encouraging people to get into the workplace.
In response to the revelations the DWP stated:
"The photos used are stock photos and along with the names do not belong to real claimants. The stories are for illustrative purposes only."
Meanwhile, social media is having a field day, as well as a go at DWP's Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith:
'You Couldn't Make It Up'
However, the revelation that fake quotes were used as a promotional tool was jumped on by critics, with Labour leadership favorite Jeremy Corbyn calling it "truly shameful."
"This is truly shameful. The punitive benefit sanctions regime is impoverishing some of the very poorest unemployed and disabled people, driving more people into deeper poverty."
"It is a damning indictment that civil servants are now being forced to make up quotes to cover for the failed political agendas of ministers, after the numerous debacles of Universal Credit, the work capability assessment, and the delays facing disabled people trying to get personal independence payments."
Stephen Timms, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, added to the criticism:
Stephen Timms: 'You couldn’t make it up--but it seems IDS can. Only way he can find backers for his #sanctions regime is by inventing them.'— Dr. Chris Jones (@dr_chris_jones) August 19, 2015
"Instead of fabricating quotes pretending the system is working, he should scrap unfair sanctions targets for jobcentre staff and do more to protect vulnerable people from facing benefit sanctions."
The Conservative party's highly controversial policy of being able to slash the benefits of people deemed not to be meeting jobseeker requirements has been highly criticized by a number of charities and political opponents, who argue that it is not an effective way to encourage people to get involved in employment and will merely put more vulnerable people at risk.