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.
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.
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