The probe, which has been launched by the advertising watchdog, concerns weekly four-page advertorials in the Metro newspaper that began in May.

The features claim to "myth-bust" common Universal Credit inaccuracies but the advertising watchdog is worried that readers won't have known these were adverts.

It's also concerned that the government's claims in some of the adverts are misleading and that they can't be backed up by facts.

The watchdog received 43 complaints about the ads, including from the charities Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K), the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and the Disability Benefits Consortium.

An ASA spokesperson said: "We’re investigating the ads on four grounds. As we are now at the investigations stage, we can’t comment further."

Why are the adverts being investigated? 

The adverts are being investigated on FOUR grounds:

  1. whether some of the ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications;
  2. whether “MYTH Universal Credit doesn’t work  FACT It does. People move into work faster on Universal Credit than they did on the old system” in some of the ads was misleading and could be substantiated;
  3. whether the claim “MYTH You have to wait 5 weeks to get any money on Universal Credit  FACT If you need money, your jobcentre will urgently pay you an advance” in some of the ads was misleading and could be substantiated, and omitted significant restrictions that were likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit; and
  4. whether the claim “MYTH Universal Credit makes it harder to pay your rent on time  FACT Your Jobcentre can give you an advance payment and pay rent directly to landlords” in some of the ads was misleading and could be substantiated, and omitted significant restrictions that were likely to affect a person’s decision to apply for Universal Credit.

In May, a leaked government memo said the advertorial campaign - as well as three-part BBC documentary series - would defend Universal Credit.

A government spokesman said: "We have consulted the Advertising Standards Authority throughout the partnership and our advertorials reflect their advice.

"It is important people know about the benefits available to them, and we regularly advertise Universal Credit."

The controversial scheme has been dogged with problems since it was launched, which is why The Sun has been campaigning to Make Universal Credit Work.

We've been calling for the wait for claimants' first Universal Credit payments to be slashed from five weeks to two weeks.

We also want to see the taper rate slashed and childcare payments made upfront rather than in arrears.

In February, DWP secretary Amber Rudd admitted that Universal Credit's five-week wait for cash had pushed people into using food banks.

While earlier this month, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) warned that people are being pushed into debt due to government mistakes.

A third of people who move on to Universal Credit have had money problems.

Source: The Sun