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The right to privacy in Jobcentres

Comment 2nd August 2010

Whilst there is a lot of hype in the media about benefit thieves, more should be done to protect the dignity and the right to privacy of the unemployed, especially at a time of rising unemployment. The current system at Jobcentre Plus offices across Britain violates the right to privacy on a daily basis, and therefore requires immediate review.   

Why does this matter?

As if the experience of unemployment and the process of having to claim Jobseeker's Allowance were not already humiliating enough, I resent the fact that I am required to discuss my personal details, employment and education history, as well as ambitions and life aspirations with the entire population of the Jobcentre, a result of its poorly conceived policy of having of open-plan office space. What's more, as a claimant falling into the 18-24 age category I am required to attend a mandatory 'Group Jobsearch Session'. Whilst I appreciate the educational benefits such an initiative would likely bring for many of those forced to attend (lest their benefits claim be suspended), I fear that the entire process represents a violation of the right to privacy. I would not be expected to conduct a discussion with my doctor in front of the entire waiting room, so why should this be the case at the Jobcentre?

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