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Advertising social security fraud

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2005
JournalBenefits
Journal number3
Volume13
Number of pages7
Pages199-205
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article analyses the representation of social security fraud in the UK's Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) television advertising campaign between 2000 and 2004. The article discusses the campaign in the context of New Labour's concerns with social security fraud and observes that the ostensible aim of the television advertisements was to deter social security fraud. The article then moves on to discuss the difficulties of the advertising campaign in meeting this aim in the context of what is known about the nature of social security fraud. Since the 1970s, the mass media in the UK has been fascinated by social security fraud (Golding and Middleton, 1982; Golding, 1999). However, since the year 2000 there has been a further media representation of social security fraud; the anti-fraud advertisement. Despite recent literature commenting on 'fraud in the public domain' (Sainsbury, 2003, pp 290–92) the anti-fraud advertisements have received no analytical attention. This article addresses this issue by focusing on the 'Targeting fraud' and the 'We're onto you' television advertisements. These advertisements were part of a campaign that also involved newspaper, poster and radio advertisements, but there is not enough space here to analyse these other types of advertisements. This article outlines the New Labour government's concerns with social security fraud and locates the television advertising campaign in relation to them. The article goes on to offer a textual analysis of the advertisements, focusing on the theme of deterring social security fraud, before critically engaging with the advertisements by focusing on their representation of social security fraud and the potential of the advertisements to deter fraudulent activity.