Love is in the air, but what you can smell right now is the Department for Work and Pensions stinking out the room.
At least that’s the collective view on social media after the Whitehall department in charge of benefits decided to mark Valentine’s Day with a welfare crackdown.
Here’s the gift the Esther McVey-run DWP offered less than loved-up couples: the prospect of jail-time.
Claiming to be living alone is one of the most common types of benefit fraud – don’t ruin #ValentinesDay by failing to declare your true circumstances https://t.co/tZuNYZ5fer pic.twitter.com/ahutOO6NUy
February 13, 2018
Against the backdrop of a huge pink heart, a video reads: “Declaring your true love tomorrow? Don’t forget to declare your true living arrangements too.
“Don’t get separated from your Valentine. Tell us of a change now.”
The tweet links to a story run on the Daily Express’s website under the headline: “Valentine’s fraud WARNING: Crackdown issued on couples who pose as single to cheat taxman”.
Among a series of examples, the piece points to a married Leicester woman who “raked in” £83,370 in benefits by falsely claiming she was a single, unemployed mother-of-two while still living with her husband for one or two nights-a-week. She was handed a 15-month suspended sentence.
It quotes James Blake, of the DWP’s Counter Fraud and Compliance Directorate, saying: “Relationships have their ups and downs but not telling us when your circumstances change is a crime and the shameless few involved are deliberating diverting money away from those who really need it.
“True love may be hard to come-by but benefits cheats aren’t difficult to track down.
“Our fraud investigators are committed to bringing criminals to justice.”
But commentators suggested the Valentine-themed campaign was perhaps a little tone-deaf.
A strong entry here from the DWP for the most ill-judged Valentine-related social media campaign award. https://t.co/z611lCAPIz
Exceptionally cynical and unpleasant tweet. Truly a nadir in DWP comms. What on earth were they thinking? https://t.co/KO6LFFcCJx
“Happy Valentines Day you lonely, lawbreaking shits” https://t.co/6tt2hZjik7
Roses are red violets are blue There's literally nothing that the DWP won't do https://t.co/gn6M9pgRWU
Roses are red Violets are blue We fell into my bed But I didn’t declare you#aintnoloveatthedwp https://t.co/2FznMhjjUx
Roses are red Violets are blue Tell us the truth Or we'll prosecute you ❤️ https://t.co/tSR6LJPLIK
Don't forget that if you are alone on #ValentinesDay you can always get screwed by the DWP... 💚 https://t.co/Y9OqBkl1GF
Aaah. This is so sweet. They’ve really, you know..entered into the spirit of the thing https://t.co/gC9rvDl0ne
Apparently there is no celebration that @DWP won’t try to ruin... 💔 #ValentinesDay https://t.co/GNuMwH75Mj
On behalf of everyone who ever rang me in tears because you were threatening them with prosecution for spending the night at their partner's house, please do one. https://t.co/Cx2UUtpWUl
February 13, 2018
Some offered sympathy to whoever had to write the words that are unlikely to be picked up by Hallmark any time soon.
No matter what is going wrong in your life, at least you're not the guy who wrote this tweet. https://t.co/PAtGymeivF
please collect ur dwp social media creator, they're being a party pooper https://t.co/AEDi1XuOPN