Gogglebox producers have been handed £315,000 of taxpayers’ cash – by the government department tasked with axing £12billion in benefits.
The money was splashed out on a two-minute TV advert promoting workplace pensions, fronted by stars of the hit Channel 4 reality show.
Regulars including sisters Ellie and Izzi Warner, Jenny and Lee and the Siddiquis were filmed chatting about retirement plans in the clip for the Department for Work and Pensions.
Before it aired during an ad break in Gogglebox last month, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd urged viewers: “Watch the whole crowd talking workplace pensions.
“Like me, they know that a workplace pension is one of the easiest and safest ways to save for your retirement.”
The cost was uncovered using Freedom of Information laws by Alex Tiffin of the Universal Credit Sufferer blog.
Campaigners have blasted it as an insult to all those who have been left worse off by Tory pensions and benefits reforms.
Shadow Business Minister Laura Pidcock said: “This is an astonishing waste of taxpayers’ money by Amber Rudd.
“Across the country families are struggling thanks to Universal Credit and the benefit freeze.
“They will rightly be fuming when they find out the DWP are throwing away money like this, but it really does not surprise me at all.”
Welfare campaigner Charlotte Hughes said: “Why is she throwing money at projects like this while children are going hungry as Universal Credit continues to cause suffering and hardship?
“It is absolutely ridiculous and shows just how out of touch this Government is with reality.
“There is no justification for spending such a vast sum on a single ad when there is not one person on Universal Credit who isn’t struggling.
“Every week I see families who rely on our food parcels to feed their children. It is heartbreaking, awful.”
And James Roberts, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s fair enough to let people know about the pensions changes, but civil servants would do better reigning in the ad campaigns, cutting down the jargon and keeping it simple.”
It comes as claimants have been pushed into hardship and debt by the Universal Credit rollout.
It will also anger the 2.6 million women born in the 1950s who have had their state pension age delayed, leaving many facing severe hardship.
And it will be a kick in the teeth to the thousands of severely ill people struggling due to the Tories’ cruel sickness benefits shake-up. Over 17,000 have died since 2013 while waiting to hear whether their claim for the Personal Independence Payment had been successful.
Another hated DWP policy is the Bedroom Tax, which the Sunday People has been fighting since its introduction in 2013.
A court ruling finally exempted families with disabled children needing constant care and women in fear of their lives who need a panic room.
A DWP spokesman said: “It’s more important than ever that Britain’s workers learn about their pension options.
“Gogglebox reaches millions of people who feel a real connection with the
families on their screens.
“This partnership was a unique opportunity to kick start a national conversation about pensions.”
Production company Studio Lambert was not available for comment.