ASA bans 'misleading' Home Office EU Settlement Scheme ad

Mark Johnson's picture

A radio advert from the UK government advising EU citizens how to apply to for a scheme stay in the UK after Brexit has been banned.

The advert, which was created on behalf of the Home Office, promoted the department’s EU Settlement Scheme, which aims to help EU citizens and their families live and work in the UK after freedom of movement ends.

in the commercial, which aired in April, listeners were advised: "It is free and all you need is your passport or ID card and to complete an online form."

However, following a complaint, the ASA decided that the advert failed to tell listeners that they might need further documentation in addition to their passport or ID card in order to apply.

Additional information required

The ASA noted that “some applicants were also asked for other documents, such as evidence of a family relationship”. 

Moreover, it said that while it acknowledged that applicants were not required specifically to submit "proof of address", some were required to submit further documents beyond those stated in the ad. 

“We considered that the actual proportion who were asked to submit further documents was likely to go beyond what the audience was likely to understand from the claim”, it said. 

“In that context, we considered that the ad did not make sufficiently clear that, in some cases, applicants would need to supply documents beyond their passport or ID card.

The ASA ruled that the advert was misleading and that it must not be broadcast again in the form complained about. 

Home Office refutes ruling 

The Home Office issued a statement saying it totally disagreed with the ASA’s ruling.

“We told the Home Office to ensure they made sufficiently clear that some applicants to the EU Settlement Scheme would need to provide additional documents beyond their passport or ID card”, the ASA said.

“We completely disagree with ASA’s decision. The campaign was factual and complied with all necessary clearance processes for radio advertising.

“The campaign has had a positive impact and encouraged more than one million successful applications so far.

“The Scheme is free, straightforward and EU citizens and their family members have plenty of time to apply. 

“All they need to apply is their passport or ID card and to complete an online form.”

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