The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was forced to admit it made an “inappropriate mistake” after it was caught out telling people they could find work as strippers.
As the Mirror reported, a page on the Universal Credit website suggested that people could become a “striptease artist” and said claimants could work as dancers “in [an] adult entertainment establishment”.
Although the page is no longer available, it has led people to question whether the DWP can sink any lower:
Can you go lower? #UniversalCredit women equality!
— Stephen Adamson YNWA #GTTO (@leeadamson2009) August 21, 2019
Strip or be sanctioned
If you refuse to take a job offer under Universal Credit, you can be sanctioned. In fact, refusing a job offer can lead to the highest level of sanctions. This led people to speculate what would happen if people refused to work as a stripper:
@AmberRuddH Just like the WORK TIL DROP ethics….
You call this a BLUNDER? GOV? @DWP?
— BENEFITS NEWS (@BENEFITS_NEWS) August 22, 2019
— Stop UK lies & corruption (@stopuklies) August 21, 2019
Others came up with a “catchy” new slogan for DWP boss Amber Rudd:
New #DWP advertising campaign slogan:
STRIP YOUR CLOTHES OR WE'LL STRIP YOUR BENEFITS
Whaddya think eh @AmberRuddHR? Catchy, yes?
— BenefitsBlues (@BenefitsBlues) August 21, 2019
Does it get worse than this?
One social media account questioned whether this is actually the “worst thing yet to come out of the DWP”:
This may be the worst thing yet to come out of the DWP, and that's saying something from the Ministry of Cruel and Unusual WTF-ery.https://t.co/SjxFmOBSm5
— Jeremy Corbyn for PM (@JeremyCorbyn4PM) August 22, 2019
— Judy Hamilton (@secretspartacus) August 21, 2019
Some people, meanwhile, highlighted that a government department seriously suggested people living in poverty should go into sex work:
Oh it's just the British Government encouraging people in poverty to go into sex work. Nothing creepy and demeaning about that.
Everything's fine. 😒https://t.co/24nstNSX3M
— James O'Flynn (@jamesoflynn) August 21, 2019
In June, the government claimed there was “little reliable data” that people on Universal Credit were being forced into sex work due to lack of money. But as the Mirror reported, “testimony by women who said they were” has suggested otherwise.
Not good enough
A spokesperson for the DWP said:
This is inappropriate and we will immediately review this to determine why it is mistakenly listed.
But this is not good enough. Because if an adult wants to work in the sex industry and does so with informed consent, that’s one thing. However, a government department telling people they can look for work as a “striptease artist” is very different. Especially under a system where people can lose their benefits if they refuse work.
The DWP may claim this was an “inappropriate” mistake. But the fact the listing appeared on the website and was only removed when caught out by the national media speaks volumes about the department that is supposed to provide support to people when they are at their most vulnerable.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?