Tag Archives: Jobcentre Plus

Week Of Action Down the Jobcentre Starts August 5th

jobcentre-queueThe Civil Service Rank & File Network  (CSRF) has called for action aimed at Jobcentre Plus in the week beginning the 5 August.

“In the week commencing 5 August we encourage civil servants to work with claimants and others who oppose austerity in your area.

• Hold workplace meetings to discuss the type of action needed to win.
• Stage pickets outside of the Jobcentre to bring workers and claimants together in opposition to the government.
• Occupy the Jobcentre and bring business to a halt for as long as you practically can.

The action taken by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty against Leith Jobcentre is a brilliant example of the kind of protest we are advocating.

CSRF is a network for civil servants who want to resist the government’s attacks on our terms and conditions. With PCS where they put up a fight, without them where they won’t!”

More details on their website at: http://csrfnetwork.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/jobcentre-plus-week-of-action-5-9-august/

Facebook event at: https://www.facebook.com/events/413358982115310/

Please spread the word.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Jobcentre Illegally Sacked Thousands of Workers

employment-appealIn yet another humiliating court defeat for Iain Duncan Smith, thousands of sacked Jobcentre staff may be entitled to compensation due to an employment tribunal ruling that they were unlawfully sacked.

Thousands of Jobcentre staff were employed on fixed term contracts in 2009 to deal with soaring unemployment due to the recession.  Many of them were then sacked to meet spending targets shortly after this Government weren’t elected.

In a move which demonstrates their utter contempt for both the rule of law and their own workforce, bungling DWP bosses had attempted to avoid paying these workers redundancy payments when they were laid off.

Two former Jobcentre staff, supported by PCS Union,  took the department to an employment tribunal, which ruled they should have been legally paid redundancy.  Thousands of workers sacked by Iain Duncan Smith could now be entitled to claim compensation which is likely to cost up to £1 million.

If Jobcentre bosses can’t even get sacking people right, then what hope is there for people needing help to find a job?

It remains to be seen whether the Secretary of State will attempt to retrospectively change the law – with the craven support of the spineless Labour Party – to avoid the repayments.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Iain Duncan Smith is a Lying Bastard

IDS-LiarIt is inconceivable that Iain Duncan Smith did not know about jobcentre targets to sanction benefit claims.  It is contemptible that he is now attempting to blame jobcentre staff for his policy.

A story in published by The Guardian last night contains details from a whistle-blower at Walthamstow Jobcentre which confirm the existence of ‘sanction’ league tables.  According to the paper:

“Ruth King, a jobcentre adviser manager, discloses in the email that she has received “the stricter benefit regime” figures for her area, adding: “As you can see Walthamstow are 95th in the league table out of only 109″ – the number of jobcentres in London and the home counties.”

Iain Duncan Smith tried to shrug of this damning testimony in Parliament this morning by saying a reminder was being sent out to jobcentres that they are not supposed to get caught using targets to sanction claimants.

Jobcentres management structures are broken down into regions and districts.  As these league tables cover the whole of the London and the Home Counties, they can only have been authorised by regional management who are headed up by a Work Service Director.*

It is not Jobcentre staff  who are responsible for these league tables, but senior DWP management.  It is astonishing that Iain Duncan Smith can claim he knows nothing about what is taking place under his very nose.

The PCS Union know, district and regional jobcentre management know, jobcentre staff know and claimants certainly know.  Are Iain Duncan Smith and Mark Hoban really so out of touch with what their own managers are doing that they are the only people in the entire organisation who don’t have a clue what’s going on?

Even when presented with the evidence in Parliament this morning Iain Duncan Smith still bleated :  “There are no targets for sanctions”.  The DWP have been caught bang to rights but still ministers plead innocence.

Iain Duncan Smith has said that anyone using targets to sanction claimants will be disciplined.  For once in his life he should follow the Seven Principles of Public Life by being honest, open and accountable and then sacking himself.

*the DWP publish a handy list of regional and district managers for claimants wishing to make complaints at a senior level.  Phone numbers and emails are included (also on google in case it disappears):  http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/jcp-district-managers.pdf

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Universal Jobmatch Goes Mandatory

job-scamThe scandal hit bodged Government spam site Universal Jobmatch will become mandatory in the next few days.

It seems that despite the well documented security problems, which still exist, claimants could be given a Jobseekers Direction to register an account with the site from the beginning of March – some Jobcentres seem to be saying that means tomorrow, the PCS Union have said Monday.  There should still be no requirement to tick the box giving the Jobcentre access to your account.

Internet cookie legislation means claimants can still refuse to use the site from their home computer – and there is really no need to tell the Jobcentre you have a home computer.  Jobcentres will be providing Internet Access Devices for those unable or unwilling to use a home PC.

DWP staff training documents have recently been acquired via a Free of Information request and are worth reading.

The documents are unclear as to how advisors should respond if a claimant refuses to agree to the website’s terms and conditions stating:

“If a user does not agree to the terms and conditions they are directed to speak to their adviser to discuss their reasons for declining.  The claimant will read the disclaimer and then scroll to the lower edge of the page to accept the conditions. “

One interesting point raised in the document training Jobcentre staff themselves on use of the new devices is the risk of identity fraud from people ‘shoulder surfing’.   Staff are warned that areas where the machines are used should be monitored to prevent this.  And they are right.  Internet cafes and libraries have no such protection.  Therefore those without computers forced to access Universal Jobmatch as part of their Jobseeker’s Agreement would be advised to request to only do so in the Jobcentre.  Truth is even if you have got a computer you might as well sit in the Jobcentre and use theirs, especially with heating bills being what they are.

And so the chaos begins.  If millions of people are to be expected to use the new website, and many, most or even a few only elect to use it in Jobcentres, then the system will quickly reach meltdown.  An earlier FOI request revealed that: “Nationally the total number of Internet Access Devices purchased is 2176″.  That means for JSA claimants alone there is just one computer available for every 700 people.  These are the computers Iain Duncan Smith has said he will haul people into Jobcentres to use everyday should they refuse to allow the DWP access to their Universal Jobmatch account.  Whoops.

For the latest info on Universal Jobmatch read, share, tweet and keep an eye on: http://consent.me.uk/universaljobmatch/

UPDATE: consent.me.uk (@refuted) on twitter makes the important point:   “DWP can only mandate #UniversalJobmatch use & registration @ Jobcentres. No where else, inc Home, Library, Cafes, Cell phone etc”

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Could Universal Jobmatch Mean Government Enforced Sex Work?

Universal-jobmatch-sexworkThe new job matching service for unemployed people, Universal Jobmatch,  could see claimant’s forced into the sex industry or face having benefits stopped.

Already the bug-ridden website has featured on Channel 4 news after job vacancies appeared which were little more than identity fraud scams.  Hundreds of thousands of unemployed claimants are currently being asked to sign up to the new website which aims to make all Jobcentre monitoring of jobseeking activity ‘digital by default’.

Many of the jobs on the website are little more than flaky self-employed sales opportunities, whilst others are clearly spoofs, such as the two ads for ‘gay princesses’ which appeared last weekend.

In a new low for the Government backed website, an advert spotted by an eagle-eyed tweeter over the weekend calls for females presenters for “home internet work for internet babe chat.”

The ad was posted by loaded.tv, a new soft porn and ‘lads’ online television channel recently launched by Loaded magazine.  Whilst the wording of the advert is vague, it seems likely this work is for webcam models – a booming sector of the porn industry.   Lucky jobseekers may even be offered a real presenting job on what will no doubt be TV classics such as Looser Women, My Bare Lady and Drunk Skunk where barely dressed “Loaded girls get drunk as skunks and review the latest music vids”.

Advertising this kind of work through a Government website is a long way from DWP policy which states employers must not place any:   “jobs for sexual services or seeking employees for jobs of a sexual nature. Any jobs placed within the adult entertainment industry must only be for the purposes of a) selling, manufacturing and distributing of adult entertainment products b) Ancillary staff e.g. cleaners and bar staff and c) jobs must display the age requirement of 18 or over. No other adult entertainment jobs will be accepted.”

There is no requirement on the internet babe chat vacancy that applicants are over 18.  Whilst Universal Jobmatch is aimed at those over 18 there is nothing to stop younger people looking at the site, and applying for jobs.  Appallingly children, in all innocence, could find themselves tempted to apply for these roles.  After all, this is a government website, what could go wrong?

There has long been controversy about sex work and jobs in the adult industry being advertised through jobcentres and in 2010 lying bastard Chris Grayling claimed the practice had been banned.

In fact the virtually non-existent vetting procedures for employers wishing to place vacancies on Universal Jobmatch mean anyone old pervert could pretend to be an employer and ask for all women in the local area, say between the ages of 18 and 25, to visit them for an interview.

The most shocking aspect of all is that Jobcentre staff may decide to force those women to attend the interview or stop benefits.  The website allows Jobcentre staff to ‘recommend’ vacancies to claimants and then check whether they have applied.  Claimant’s who refuse to apply for the vacancies selected for them could have benefits stopped.

Jobcentre staff are under increasing pressure to harass unemployed claimants and force them to apply for as many jobs as possible.  It is entirely possible that a vaguely worded advert for ‘internet babe chat’ presenters is not fully understood as being a form of sex work by some Jobcentre advisors.  It is equally possible that a vulnerable young claimant could feel they have no choice but to apply for the vacancy and if successful take up the position.  If they refuse they could face having benefits stopped, potentially for up to three years.  Not every claimant has the confidence to stand up and fight ever more punishing DWP decisions.

So in answer to the lurid headline above, yes, Universal Jobmatch could mean government enforced sex work, without even the government being aware of it.

The DWP have brushed off claims that unemployed people could be forced to send personal information to identity fraudsters by insisting the vetting procedures for vacancies are adequate.  In a statement to Channel 4 they attempt to completely wash their hands of any responsibility for misuse of the website claiming “Sadly, there will always be a small number of cases where people seek to get around these checks.”

Yet the website was built at great cost by the recruitment firm Monster Jobs – a company which has their own similar website for jobseekers which isn’t riddled with sex work and identity scams.

So determined are the DWP to punish people for being unemployed they appear to think claimants now have no rights whatsoever and deserve such a shoddy and exploitative service.  It will not just be unemployed people subject to digital by default snooping, bullying and scamming should they be forced to sign up to Universal Jobmatch.  When Universal Credit is introduced next year, millions of disabled people, single parents, part time workers and self employed workers will also be forced to undertake endless ‘job seeking activity’ or face benefits being stopped.

Monitoring this vast expansion of DWP snooping into claimant’s lives was always likely to be expensive.   It appears that Iain Duncan Smith has found a way to do it on the cheap – and if a few people get scammed, or forced into the sex industry, well it appears to serve them right for claiming any form of benefit.

The latest information from the PCS, the union which represents Jobcentre staff, is that it is not mandatory to sign up to Universal Jobmatch.  Despite this anecdotal evidence suggests that many claimant’s are being threatened with benefit sanctions if they refuse.  Printing out the statement from the PCS and taking it to the Jobcentre may be one way which claimants can make a case that they do not wish to sign up to the website, and that according to the DWP’s own documents, they don’t have to.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Universal Jobmatch: A Scammers Paradise

job-scam3UPDATE 27/2/13:  Registering an account with Universal Jobmatch will  become mandatory from the beginning of March 2013.  There should still be no requirement to tick the box giving DWP access to your account.  For the latest details and what this means for claimants keep an eye on:  http://consent.me.uk/2013/02/26/mandatory/

The Government’s new job vacancies website, Universal Jobmatch, is riddled with outright scams, data harvesting operations, spoof job vacancies and dodgy business opportunities.  The recently launched website is the latest crazy scheme from Iain Duncan Smith to snoop on the ‘job seeking activity’ of benefit claimants.

The bug ridden site, which many claimants say barely works, is now leading to fears unemployed people may be forced to hand over personal information to fraudsters or face benefit sanctions.

An advert appeared last week for the Montcalm Hotel offering a staggering £3-5000 a month for bar work and catering staff.  All candidates had to do is send a full CV, with contact details and a passport sized photograph, to an email address which appeared to emanate from Thailand.

This advert, which was an obvious identity fraud scam, has now been taken down.  But this was only after several people had identified it on twitter and made the real Montcalm Hotel (which does exist) aware of the fake job advert.  It seems to have easily passed through the shabby vetting procedures the DWP requires from employers wishing to advertise jobs on the system

An obvious scam such as this appearing on a Government website is embarrassing enough, but of far more concern is that unemployed claimants can now be forced to apply for any job on the site or face losing benefits.  This is not scare-mongering.  The DWP could force you to hand over your personal details to an obvious fraudster.  In fact this could have already happened.

The lax security procedures were highlighted when the site launched and an advert with the reference number 007 called for an Elimination Specialist at MI6.  This weekend two adverts have appeared asking for a ‘gay princess’ with a company called spamco suggesting hackers have already found their way through the verification system.

Even the jobs which aren’t outright scams or spoofs are dubious at best.  Several adverts ask for ‘distributors’ for a company called Focus Group Distribution.  Like many of the jobs on the Universal Jobmatch site, this position is commission only.  Potential candidates are asked to visit a website to apply where they are presented with a form asking for a name, address and telephone number.  The company claim to be a long established British PLC.  Yet according to Companies House, Focus Group Distribution don’t exist.  The website is registered to a single individual at a home address.

Several more vacancies are available with the optimistically named Freedom Enterprises.  Once again this leads to a website which demands full personal details before before providing any information on the company.  According to who.is, this website is registered to a non-trading individual.

Unlike the Montcalm Hotel scam these commission only jobs advertised on dubious websites may be perfectly genuine.  Or they may be pyramid schemes, spammers or the kind of ‘business opportunity’ that demands huge cash payments up front. The DWP don’t know.  Or even seem to care.  So desperate are they to punish and harass anyone who might find themselves unemployed, that they no longer seem interested if by their actions they further destroy people’s lives.

An increasing number of people forced off sickness benefits and into endless job seeking activity have learning disabilities or mental health conditions.  Most are desperate and living in dire poverty.  These are exactly the people scammers like to target to strip away any last remaining cash they may have.

And the DWP will help them along the way by demanding that huge numbers of unemployed people are  forced to hand out personal information to any passing ID fraudster.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Universal Jobmatch: The IT Shambles at the DWP

Reports are suggesting that thousands of unemployed people may be forced to sign up to Universal Jobmatch this week despite the site being so poorly constructed that registration is near impossible at times.

Several Jobcentres are believed to have threatened people with a ‘Jobseekers Direction’ unless they register with the new government job search website and allow DWP snoops access to their account.  This unprecedented and chilling intrusion means that anyone claiming benefits could now be forced to sign away their rights under the Data Protection Act or face poverty and possible homelessness due to having benefits sanctioned.

It will not just be unemployed people who face being stripped of their privacy rights should this continue.  When Universal Credit is launched next year millions of people, whether single parents,or those who are sick, disabled or working part time, will be expected to constantly prove they are seeking ‘more or better paid work’ to satisfy benefit conditions.  With DWP staff already over-stretched it seems certain that Universal Jobmatch will be the mechanism used to police and monitor claimant’s jobsearch.

Universal Jobmatch is a job matching website where employers can browse the CVs of claimants and use the DWP to threaten people into applying for jobs.  Jobcentre staff can also select job vacancies which claimants must then apply for or face losing benefits.

Already many employers have refused to use the service due to concerns about being overwhelmed by mass spam job applications.  Many of the jobs on offer are part time, self-employed or appear to be recruitment agencies simply attempting to hoover up personal details of claimants for their databases.  Barely any checks are made to see if an employer is genuine leading to fears that the site could be exploited by everyone from illegal gang masters to abusive ex-partners.  Over the weekend the vacancy pictured above appeared for an ‘elimination specialist’  with MI6 quoting a reference number of 007.

Despite this some Jobcentres are attempting to sign people up by force in direct contravention of DWP guidelines insisting the scheme is not (yet) mandatory.  Other claimants have reported that their Jobcentre barely seem to have heard of the scheme.  Perhaps most importantly, the website simply doesn’t work.  The site constantly times out with accessing job vacancies and registration just not possible at times.  Claimants mandated to sign up to the site could find themselves stripped of benefits merely because the shabby Universal Jobmatch website is virtually unusable.

Claimants may be expected to do one of two things.  Firstly they could be ordered to register with Universal Jobmatch and secondly to tick the box which allows Jobcentre staff to access their accounts.  Unless forced to under threat of sanctions the best advice is to do neither.  There is no need to register with the website to view and apply for most of the vacancies.

The DWP are attempting to launch a crude surveillance system of jobseeking activity on the cheap.  If Universal Jobmatch fails then upcoming plans to force part time workers into endless jobsearch, or compel unemployed people to spend 35 hours a week looking for non-existent jobs, are likely to prove unworkable.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Thousands To Be Forced To Sign Up To Government Website That Doesn’t Work

In an unnerving sign of what may be to come when Universal Credit is introduced, hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants will this week be expected to sign up a shabby website full of broken links, mis-formatted information and pages that don’t load.

The DWP’s new Universal Jobmatch website went live over the weekend.  As from today Jobcentres up and down the country will be bullying and harassing claimants into registering with the site which gives DWP busy-bodies unprecedented control over how unemployed people look for jobs.

Whilst the DWP say that signing up to the site is not mandatory (PDF), there are increasing reports of Jobcentres issuing information which suggests benefits may be affected for those who refuse.  The best advice is still do not sign unless compelled to.  Even if a Jobseekers Direction is issued threatening a sanction for failing to sign up, claimants can still refuse the sign the box which gives the DWP powers to spy on job seeking activity.  You do not need to register with the site to access many of the vacancies.

Astonishingly the privacy conditions for the site inform claimants that:   “We try to limit access to our searchable CV database only to those employers who have been given permission, but cannot guarantee that people or organisations without permission will not gain access to this database.”

Unfortunately accessing the vacancies may be harder than anticipated, as around half the pages time out before loading.  Using this website may well be the first online experience for many claimants – and it doesn’t work.

Even for the lucky few who manage to get a page to load, the number of jobs available is miniscule.  There are just 4522 jobs available within five miles of Central London, an area which covers Walthamstow to Greenwich.  There are currently around 225,000 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in the London area.

Many of these jobs are part time, some for just a couple of hours a week.  A significant number are ‘self-employed’ such as ‘Nightclub Photographer Salesperson’ (must have own camera).  A large amount appear to be for agencies, whilst many more are jobs which require highly specialised skills such as Architect.

Such is the DWP’s obsession with punishing and monitoring claimants that unemployed people could now be compelled to waste time job searching on a website with barely any vacancies, limited functionality and which may even bombard you with spam.  Buried in the Terms and Conditions, the DWP state that:

“We cannot protect you from unwanted emails that you may receive that may advertise products or services for sale, although We can choose to restrict the number of emails which an employer may send to you.”

Already many claimants who have visited the site have complained it is worse than the old jobs direct site – a feat that would barely have been thought possible.  It’s clear that any money that’s been spent on the new website has gone into the behind the scenes snooping powers it now gives Jobcentres.  Spying on unemployed people, with the aim of sanctioning benefits, is far more important to the DWP than providing a website which works and actually contains a decent amount of genuine vacancies.

It’s hardly a surprise that the website is such a mess.  The new service was built by Monster Jobs – an international online recruitment firm.  The company already has an extensive online jobmatching website.  They were hardly likely to develop a better one for the DWP.

Monster Jobs must have been laughing all the way to the bank as the DWP paid them huge some of tax payer’s cash to effectively knobble any competition to their business from the Jobcentre.

There are well founded fears that eventually this bodged website may be used to police the 35 hours a week jobseeking activity which will be demanded when Universal Credit is introduced.  Hundreds of thousands of part time workers, as well as those on sickness or disability benefit will also be expected to look for work, quite possibly via Universal Jobmatch. Companies advertising jobs on the site which do not require specific skills or experience could find themselves swamped with tens of thousands of applications as claimants are mandated on mass to apply for vacancies.

The Government’s new benefit regime, Universal Credit, will depend on the largest and most complex IT database ever constructed in history.  Over 20 million people are to be transferred onto the new benefit.  If Universal Jobmatch is an early sign of the DWP’s ability to procure and manage IT services then it paints a chilling vision of the future when all benefits are to be digital by default.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Universal Jobmatch – Do Not Sign!

UPDATE 27/2/13:  Registering an account with Universal Jobmatch will  become mandatory from the beginning of March 2013.  There should still be no requirement to tick the box giving DWP access to your account.  For the latest details and what this means for claimants keep an eye on:  http://consent.me.uk/2013/02/26/mandatory/

UPDATE: For the latest news (as of 20/01/13) and confirmation from the PCS Union that Universal Jobmatch is not mandatory visit: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/universal-jobmatch-not-mandatory-pcs-confirms/

Confusion reigns as usual at the DWP as the bodged roll out of Universal Jobmatch begins tomorrow.

As recently revealed, it appears that some Jobcentres are attempting to mandate unemployed claimants by stealth to the new job-matching computer system. Other claimants report that their Jobcentre have barely heard of the new database which will give DWP snoops unprecedented control over how unemployed people look for work.

Once signed up to the new database,  Jobcentre staff will be able to match claimants up to jobs and monitor all job seeking activity by spying on applications and covers letters.  Claimants who refuse, or are unable send out huge amounts of spam applications to employers, may face benefits being stopped.

Of most concern is that anyone pretending to be an employer will now be able to use the new service to track down groups of claimants and compel them to come and be interviewed.  Already the Jobcentre’s vacancy database is riddled with scams, sex work, or the kind of commission only sales jobs that are likely to end up featured on Rogue Traders  The potential for abuse of the new system is terrifying.

It is almost quite possibly unlawful for claimants to be forced to surrender their rights under the Data Protection Act by using benefit sanctions to blackmail people into signing up to the new scheme.

Despite what bullying Jobcentre bosses may claim, the latest information from the DWP confirms that the scheme is not yet mandatory:  https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://consentrights.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/universal-jobmatch.pdf

Claimants are advised to print out the page at the above link and take it with them next time they attend the Jobcentre.  At present DWP policy, according to the most recent documentation, is that claimants should not be mandated to sign up – so don’t! (be careful out there, see below for the information on Jobseeker Directions)

There are fears that the new system will be used to home police claimants when Universal Credit is introduced next year.  Under the new benefits regime, claimants will be expected to spend 35 hours looking for work each week.  The DWP, or even Work Programme contractors like A4e, could use the new system to force claimants to spend hours clicking through the site or pointlessly applying for unsuitable vacancies just to meet this 35 hour a week condition.  Part time workers, sick or disabled claimants and single parents will face similar conditions.

A mass rejection of the scheme now will help put a spanner in the works of any future Orwellian snooping into how claimants look for work.

It is possible that there may be some attempt to bully claimants to sign up via a Jobseekers Direction.  This is a formal order which means a claimant can be forced to take any reasonable steps dictated by Jobcentre advisors to find work or face a benefit sanction.

Should this happen then claimants could sign up but refuse to grant the DWP access to their online account.  Claimants are also advised to set up anonymised email accounts with providers like yahoo and hotmail (or some far hipper and more secure alternative that hopefully some geek will recommend in the comments).  Don’t tell the fuckers anything you don’t have to.

It can be difficult to challenge the Jobcentre with the ever present threat of being plunged into immediate poverty due to the sanctions regime.  Everyday more local groups are coming together to resist the demolition of the welfare state.  There are many facebook pages and groups where folk in the same boat may know of a group near you.  Please feel free to post any links in the comments to local groups established to support claimants (I’ll try to get a list up in the next week of so).

For more information on what you don’t have to sign visit: http://www.donotsign.com/

Facebook groups supporting claimants:

Benefit Claimants Fightback: http://www.facebook.com/groups/116432071735566/

Boycott Workfare: http://www.facebook.com/boycottworkfare

Disabled People Against Cuts: http://www.facebook.com/groups/DPAC2011/

Black Triangle in Defence of Disabled Claimants: http://www.facebook.com/blacktriangle11

Join the National Week of Action Against Workfare: http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=1741

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

The Baseless Smears and Vile Propaganda of Channel 4’s Dispatches

Yesterday’s Dispatches documentary turned out to be both an attack claimants and Jobcentre staff with little provided in the name of balanced journalism.  Along with embarrassing attempts to prove how easy it is to ‘beat’ the system, the programme also revealed the stunning revelation that Jobcentre’s are a bit shit when it comes to actually finding people a job.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s claimed benefits over the last few decades although it is apparently big news to the latte slurping Tarquins at Channel 4, most of whom have probably never done a real job in their lives.

The first half of the programme included the laughable paint sting, in which a man with paint on his clothes went to sign on and, in Dispatches’ view, was not adequately interrogated about why he had paint on his clothes.

This followed the intrepid documentary team inserting a line of text into someones CV which wasn’t immediately spotted by Jobcentre staff and the outrageous scandal of someone not filling in their job seeking activity record properly.

The rest of the programme was largely devoted to publicly humiliating a Jobcentre Plus manager who seemed to have little idea of what is actually going on at the front line in Jobcentres.   Channel 4’s sleuthing will however have come as little surprise to Jobcentre staff, who yesterday were on strike over oppressive working conditions and unrealistic target setting.

Whilst the programme heavily featured the Jobcentre’s inability to provide claimants with decent CVs, it completely overlooked the companies involved in the £5 billion Work Programme, who’s job it is to actually help people find work.

Despite the Work Programme proving to be a hugely expensive failure, with job outcome rates currently less than would be expected if claimants were left to their own devices to find work, this very real scandal was completely ignored by the programme.  As was the fact that half a million benefit sanctions were handed out by Jobcentres last year for precisely the kind of breaches of job seeking activity that the programme attempted to reveal is widespread and unchecked.

The views of Jobcentre staff, under increasing pressure to harass and sanction claimant’s were completely ignored.  The PCS Union, who have long complained about the horrendous pressure their members are under to strip claimants of benefit, were also not given any space to air their views.

The whole dire affair appeared to be laying the ground for privatisation of benefit services, with a handful of recruitment sector spivs brought in to show how much better they would be at the job.  What the programme didn’t say is that Jobcentre staff deal with hundreds of claimants a day unlike the cosy one to one sessions that the private sector pretended they would offer.

The blame for the shambles at the Jobcentre lies directly Government Ministers like Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling.  Shamefully they got off scott free in the documentary which instead preferred to blame claimants and front line workers for the problems caused by this Government.

The PCS Union and their members deserve full support in their struggle to end the culture of harassment of both benefit claimants and Jobcentre staff at the DWP.  It is true that not everyone has a great experience at the Jobcentre, which all too often resembles an organisation tasked with policing and sanctioning claimants rather than actually supporting them into work.  But it is equally true that this is not the fault of front line workers, a significant number of whom have previously been claimants themselves.

Whilst the DWP have pretended to be upset at Channel 4’s desperate attempt at muck raking, the likes of A4e and G4s will once again be laughing all the way to the bank as they eye yet more lucrative Government contracts.  The entire Dispatches team should hang their heads in shame for producing such shoddy sensationalist garbage which will no doubt result in yet more baseless abuse aimed at both unemployed people and public sector workers.

Channel 4 are today boasting that 2 million people watched the programme, which was endlessly trailed before the show with lurid trailers featuring the ‘tricks of the benefit cheats’.  In contrast last week’s documentary on the brutal health assessments sick and disabled claimants face, which have driven people to suicide, was buried in the middle of the Olympics with no such extensive pre-publicity.  Channel 4 have shown quite clearly whose side they are on, and it ain’t ours.