The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has powers both to hand out money and to sanction people. That demands a lot of trust, which yesterday took another knock.
Welfare Weekly, a specialist website run by a welfare rights campaigner, used Freedom of Information to reveal that Sarah and Zac, people whose case studies featured in a Job Centre Plus leaflet, didn't really exist.
The leaflet doesn't clearly indicate that the claimants' storiesgiven in quotation marksare in fact made up "for illustrative purposes only", as the department put it.
So it's easy to see how people could be misled.
This comes just a week after the UK Statistics Authority raised concerns about selective use of sanctions figures by the Department. We said at the time that it was disappointing to see problems recurring with the DWP.
We note the department acted quickly to correct the error once it was realised. The DWP said in a statement:
"The case studies were used for illustrative purposes to help people understand how the benefit system works. They're based on conversations our staff have had with claimants. They have now been removed to avoid confusion".