THE Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to hire dozens of new staff in order to spy on benefits claimants, reports suggest.

An advertisement on shows that the DWP is hiring up to 25 covert surveillance officers, with jobs available in 20 locations around the UK.

The job summary states that successful applicants will be using “covert surveillance” to try and crack down on fraud within the welfare system.

It read: “As part of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) response to tackling fraud within the welfare system, the Department utilise covert surveillance to gather evidence to prove/disprove offences

“This is an opportunity to join our team of highly trained, dedicated operatives in this challenging but highly rewarding role.

“This is not a normal office hours role. It will require you to work unsociable hours (early start and late finishes) including some weekend work alongside a good level of fitness.”

The salary for the role is advertised as between £29,500 to £33,929.

While the description of what the job actually constitutes is vague it does state that those hired will be producing “evidential packages” for use against claimants.

As well as writing up witness statements they may also be required to wear “covert audio equipment”.

It comes as the UK Government seeks to pass the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which would force banks to hand over data on the UK’s 22.6 million benefits claimants.

After passing through its second reading in the House of Commons it is now at committee stage in the House of Lords.

However, the legislation has prompted outrage from privacy campaigners such as Big Brother Watch, who say that the bill as it stands could result in anyone connected to a benefit claimant having their banking data handed over to the DWP.

The job advertisement does not mention whether applicants would be monitoring bank accounts.

However, a DWP employee told the Big Issue that the hiring spree was concerning as it “can signify quite early on what their plans are”.

“To see these covert surveillance roles being advertised makes me fear for the future of not just myself but all of the customers I support,” they said.

It comes after Big Brother Watch wrote a letter calling on the UK Government to scrap its plans to snoop on claimants’ bank accounts.

They said it would “compel third parties including banks, building societies and transmission companies to trawl all customer accounts in search of ‘matching’ accounts without prior suspicion of fraudulent activity, setting a deeply concerning precedent for generalised, intrusive financial surveillance in the UK“.

John Edwards, the UK’s Information Commissioner, has also previously questioned whether the legislation is “tightly drafted” and questioned its proportionality.

The UK Government claims that its plans to tackle fraud in the benefit system will save the DWP £1.3 billion.