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"Dehumanising" Space Invaders Poster Used To Mark Progress With Jobcentre Claimants

"I'm used to being treated as sub-human, now not even that, I am an extra-terrestrial," one claimant said.

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Jess Phillips / Via Twitter: @jessphillips

The Department of Work and Pensions has been criticised after it emerged staff at a Birmingham job centre created a giant poster in the style of a Space Invaders game that appeared to target disability benefit claimants.

The "ESA Challenge" poster, which was visible to claimants en route to appointments, refers to the Employment Support Allowance, a benefit for people who are unable to work because of a disability or illness.

The "challenge" only came to light after being photographed by a claimant who passed it to local Birmingham Yardley Labour MP Jess Phillips.

She condemned it as "inhuman" and indicative of a wider culture within the DWP

"There is a culture problem at the DWP about figures, and turning people into figures which can be moved from one balance sheet to another," Phillips told BuzzFeed News.

"I do not blame the Yardley job centre," she said. "I blame the ultimate culture target-driven culture that we have towards welfare."

Phillips went on to criticise the government's "false divide" between those who receive benefits and those who contribute - "everybody is a tax payer and most people also receive

She added: "Unfortunately, what was presented on the wall was just more of this same divide of people."

The poster is thought to have been created to mark the number of claimants who were helped into work by the centre, which is now working with Phillips office in order to make amends.

A DWP spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by BuzzFeed News, instead directing us to a tweet by disabilities minister Justin Tomlinson in response to Phillips.

It is understood the sign at the job centre is now in the process of being removed.

Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at

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