The Government is risking further controversy over its advertising strategy with a new outdoor campaign – which uses Google map imagery to pinpoint certain streets – to encourage neighbours to grass up suspected benefit cheats.
According to The Sunday Times, one execution will read: “They are claiming benefits and getting cash in hand – do something about it. Help us catch benefit cheats one street at a time.”
Facebook ads will also encourage neighbours to shop people they suspect of cheating the system.
Despite claims made by the Department for Work & Pensions that the new ads are “sophisticated”, they are likely to reignite fears over bully-boy tactics sparked by the “go home or face arrests” vans which were eventually banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.
They are also likely to face accusations that feuding neighbours will simply dob each other in to the authorities.
The campaign is also aimed at the increasing number of foreign gangs involved in people-trafficking and drug smuggling, whom, it is claimed, also run complex benefit fraud schemes.
Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is quoted as saying: “They are eyeing benefits as part of their empires and we are working to stop them in their tracks.”