Citizens Income

Opinion: Social security without the surveillance

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This past year has been the one when it finally came out in the open that we’re all under surveillance - on the internet, on the phone - 24 hours a day.

It certainly wasn’t news to any who have had to rely at any time on means-tested, increasingly conditional benefits in order to pay their bills. Claimants have long had to report income, bank statements, family circumstances, rent - for just a start - to several authorities, in order to top up meagre wages or have any money at all to live on. This year, both Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance saw all the harsh conditions of the floundering Universal Credit policy brought in without the supposed salve the structure of UC is claimed to be.

Registration on Universal Jobmatch, the government website contracted out to Monster - is now mandatory. With its scam, zero-hour contract, and even sex work advertisements, this website would be a perfect joke if its Big Brother/Kafkaesque interface didn’t threaten real people’s lives with identity theft and other abuses of personal data daily. Then there’s the stress of being monitored in real time by Job Centre officials and bullied on to workfare placements which lead nowhere...I could go on.

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