The watchdog received 44 complaints about the adverts, which ran in London’s Metro newspaper and on Mail Online and Metro Online during May and June.
The adverts presented a series of “myths” versus “facts” about Universal Credit.
They stated: “Your Jobcentre can give you an advance credit and pay rent directly to landlords.” As well: “If you need money, your Jobcentre will urgently pay you an advance.” And: “People move into work faster on Universal Credit than they did in the old system.”
The complainants challenged whether the adverts were obviously identifiable as marketing and whether the statements were misleading and could be substantiated. Those to raise concerns included charities the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the Disability Benefits Consortium and Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K).
Additionally, on the two statements about payments to landlords and advances, they challenged if significant restrictions likely to affect a person’s decision to apply were omitted.
The ASA concluded that the advert about direct payments to landlords was “misleading” because the option was not generally available to all Universal Credit claimants who wanted it.
And it found that the advert misleadingly implied that advance payments could be made direct to landlords.
As well, the watchdog ruled that the other adverts were misleading and in one case not identifiable as marketing.
The ASA said the adverts must not appear again in the form complained of and the DWP must hold adequate evidence to substantiate statements it makes in adverts.