The Department for Work and Pensions has admitted using made-up stories from fictional claimants to demonstrate the positive impact of benefit sanctions. A DWP leaflet featured one welfare claimant, "Sarah", who said she was "really pleased" a cut to her benefits had encouraged her to improve her CV.

Under the sanctions system - introduced by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith - people can lose benefits for anywhere between a few weeks and three years if they fail to meet the government's requirements for jobseekers.

Having seen the leaflets, Stephen said: "You couldn't make it up - but it seems Iain Duncan Smith can. The only way he can find backers for his sanctions regime is by inventing them. Instead of fabricating quotes pretending the system is working, [Iain Duncan Smith] should scrap unfair sanctions targets for jobcentre staff and do more to protect vulnerable people from facing benefit sanctions."

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AuthorStephen Timms