Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Government Leaflets 'Difficult to Access or Understand'

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been urged to cut the amount of leaflets it produces and make them easier to understand. A National Audit Office (NAO) report has found that the DWP’s 13 core leaflets all needed higher than average reading skills to fully understand the information, and the DWP does not have an up-to-date list of all the leaflets it produces, which last year totalled 24 million copies of almost 250 separate leaflets, at an estimated cost of £31 million.

In 25 per cent of offices it was difficult for customers in wheelchairs to access leaflets without help. Leaflets for pensioners and disabled people were available at 20 per cent of all sites, and the core leaflets were available at only half of sites visited. Where leaflets were not available staff found it difficult to help customers obtain information. The report also found that in 17 per cent of the Department’s offices, leaflets were not easily accessible to the public or well laid out. The DWP has a policy to review leaflets every six months to ensure that they contain accurate information. However, given that it can take up to 16 weeks to review a leaflet’s accuracy, this is not followed in all cases and errors in leaflets still occur.

Sir John Bourn, head of the NAO, said: “It is vital that people can rely on the accuracy of the leaflets the government produces to make informed choices about their lives. And it is vital that they can get hold of these leaflets and easily understand them when they do. The Department for Work and Pensions has made progress in these respects but needs to manage better the leaflets it produces to ensure those needing information can access it when they need to.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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