Will Welfare Reform Collapse Due to IDS’s Blundering?

welfare-reform-bannerSome much needed Christmas good news has come from the DWP of all places with the announcement that next year’s benefit cap is to be delayed for up to six months in most parts of the UK.

The cap, which restricts benefit levels regardless of how big a claimant’s family is, or the soaring costs of renting, will threaten thousands of children with homelessness at a stroke.  Whilst the announcement is only a delay, it does at least give those whose lives are about to be plunged into government inflicted chaos, a little longer to prepare for the onslaught.

The cap will sadly still go ahead in Enfield, Croydon, Haringey and Bromley, three London boroughs already suffering rising homelessness.

The hold up, according to The Guardian, is due to concerns about computer software.  It’s seems more likely that the practical administration of co-ordinating cuts to housing benefit – currently processed by local councils – and other benefits, some of which are paid by the DWP, and some by HMRC, has not been adequately thought through.

Once again another of Iain Duncan Smith’s crazy schemes had fallen at the first hurdle because the Secretary of State doesn’t understand the benefits system he’s reforming.

This announcement follows the  Universal Jobmatch shambles.  IDS is believed to have paid Monster Jobs approaching £20 million for the bodged website that he’s now having to pretend is great.

As anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the internet could have warned him, with no safeguards in place, the website has become a target for scammers, spammers and spoof vacancies.

IDS announced recently that it will be mandatory for those on Jobseekers Allowance to sign up to the website in the New Year.  However there will be no requirement for claimants to tick the box giving Jobcentre staff access to snoop on their account, so don’t!

The website uses cookies, small computer programmes which track how a website is used.  Under recent laws, it is not legal for a website to force anyone to use cookies if they don’t want.  If you refuse to accept cookies then Universal Jobmatch doesn’t work. This means that whilst the Jobcentre can force you to sign up to the website, they can’t force you to use it, or monitor if you do.

A piece of legislation that Iain Duncan Smith was either was unaware of, or chose to ignore, has put a digital spanner in the works of the endless jobseeking activity to be expected of all claimants when Universal Credit is launched.

Many people wondered how the DWP would have the manpower to police the new regime.  Disabled people, parents, part time and self employed workers, will all now be expected to search for more, or better paid work, as a condition of receiving benefits.  Universal Jobmatch was the answer.  And they’ve fucked it up.

Building a basic website, and introducing a benefit cap, are far from the most difficult challenges facing Universal Credit, which involves the construction of the largest government IT database ever created anywhere in the history of the world.

You might even call them the basics.  The ongoing shambles won’t protect many claimants from having lives thrown into chaos by the incompetence of the DWP.  But there remains at least a chink of hope that this ineptness will ultimately mean the collapse of Iain Duncan Smith’s precious Welfare Reform Bill.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

47 responses to “Will Welfare Reform Collapse Due to IDS’s Blundering?

  1. Pingback: Will Welfare Reform Collapse Due to IDS’s Blundering? | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's | Scoop.it

  2. Jonny you mention it is not legal for a website to force anyone to use cookies – can you give some more details to site at the Jobcentre.

    • Liz: It’s quite difficult to explain, Basically, any EU website must now display a message which asks for your consent to collect information – and explain how the information they collect will be used. If you don’t agree to the site collecting your information then you do not have to use the website. You may have already noticed a ‘pop up’ on many sites with info about cookies. It’s commonly known as the ‘EU Cookie Law’. Hope the following is of some help:

      The “Cookie Law” stems from a modification to the EU Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive, which took place in November 2009. It aims to safeguard privacy online and protect web users from unwanted marketing. Cookies can be used to build up a profile of where you have been and how you have behaved online. The law aims to make sure that any company seeking to collect information about a web user must ask for their consent first. Prior to this modification, websites had to allow people to opt out of cookies. Now they have to opt in to all “non-essential” cookies. The law was imported into UK law in May 2011, but UK companies were given one year to comply. The deadline for compliance is 26 May, 2012.


  3. another blunder by them opes but it will be us the poor souls who pay for it yet again ids whot a plonker and whot a human being who shouls have been locked away but for this mess for others to pick up from

  4. To force people to use Universal Jobmatch seems unlawful to me and I would bet that some plucky individual will end up challenging this action in court if IDS is daft enough to try it on.

    (Mind you both IDS and David Freud are unreconstructed morons!).

    Condition 1 of Principle 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998 stresses
    that the personal data of British citizens cannot be stored or
    processed without their consent, viz.,”The data subject (the person
    whose data is stored) has consented (“given their permission”) to
    the processing;”

    Iain Duncan Smith recently made the extraordinary claim that all citizens living in Great Britain wo were in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance are to be compelled to use Universal Jobmatch in the new year, which involves uploading shit loads of intimate personal data, in the form of CVs
    and covering letters and similar, to Universal Jobmatch or suffer loss benefit if they refuse.

    Thing is how can representatives of the DWP in Jobcentres be ordered to coerce British citizens into waiving protections currently afforded to them by the Data Protection Act 1998, and make them submit any personal data whatsoever to be stored and processed by Universal Jobmatch, against their will, by threatening affected citizens with penury and destitution if they
    fail to consent to obey such a direction?

    Without the Data Protection Act 1998 being amended won’t the DWP be
    acting unlawfully (or even possibly illegally) if it initiates a programme of deliberate systematic intimidation, threats and bullying of claimants, en masse, in order to force them to surrender data to Universal Jobmatch against their will even though the Data Protection Act 1998 and EU law forbid this?

    This can’t be right, can it? Something is very, very wrong here surely?

    • Discussions about UJ seem have gone round in circles as many suspect & are convinced that rationally – it’s of course illegal to coerce anyone & everyone to waive their data protection rights, still, the DWP/JCP have ways of making black into white/day into night. They’re changing wording (s) even now, just enough to alter overall meanings (in JSA Agreements, eg). They are well-practised in making people believe that they ‘have no choice’ about something when there might be an alternative(s) – but not pointing this out/discussing it openly.

      To date, they have told (some) people that it’s okay not to bother with this site ‘as long as you show us enough evidence of job searching elsewhere’ – the underlying threat being that it’s only a matter of time before some job adviser decides they’re ‘not satisfied enough’ & then goes on to make it a ‘condition’ to use the site. Even then, they might say ‘you don’t have to give us permission to view your searches, or even upload a CV (verbally) but they’ll later be able to (using their own defined terms) easily decide, in their own time, that they’re again ‘unsatisfied’ that the site isn’t being used effectively & they will threaten sanctions. This is contained in the ‘optional use’ written info. (somewhere).

      They’ve instructed others that they should ‘sign up to UJ site – it’s mandatory’ so some lawbreaking has (technically?) already gone on – except that in those cases once the person has registered on the site if they choose to tick certain boxes allowing permissions/waiving rights – this can be called informed consent: They chose to do it – no one forced them. (They might not have had the implications explained to them/not be familiar with the idea even, but ‘if they tick – it’s of their own freewill’).

      Taking the issue to court is surely what should be happening but unless the person who is able to do so has the resources and access to legal expertise, there are difficulties of costs/time/know-how/expert legal advice – & this is a giant machine to challenge . Even if it did/does happen, everything that’s come out so far about Universal Credit proposals (if it staggers to life next year) shows that UJ is just one ‘small’ part of the push to force all claimants to rely on (linked) computerised technology for evidencing their job search/payment of benefits/stopping benefits. If the only system on offer to sign up to is a giant (sanctioning) ‘monster’ then there will likely be fewer & fewer options to challenge the ‘bits in the middle’ of the whole increasingly faceless/heartless system. As well as more loopholes/complex links leading to one another to ‘coerce’ people (by roundabout means) into jumping through required hoops until leaving them eventually no freedoms/options (apart from opting out altogether).

      Merry Xmas.

      • The idea that sanctioning may end up being done by machines is really worrying. People’s lives are messy and every circumstance that men, women and families have to face will be impossible to codify in a computer system. People who are doing their best will make small mistakes or failures which will lead to enormous, life threatening, penalties. As far as I know some sanctions are like death sentences; once you’ve been given them there’s no way to appeal. Oh, boy! This is unprecedented and ugly stuff.

        How the heck can millions of people on benefits all manage their benefits on line and carry out 35 hours of jobsearch a week if they’re unemployed. I mean it really is factually impossible. Where is the internet access? How will people on Jobseeker’s Allowance be able to afford to travel from their homes to Jobcentres or Libraries or whatever on a daily basis to carry out job seeking activities? How will people who are IT adverse or inexpert going to manage? And so on and so forth. Based on what I know about the proposed system we’re all going to get sanctioned aren’t we because the DWP is asking us to do the impossible?

        Eventually, after enormous pain and misery, this is all going to crash and burn, surely?

  5. something survived...

    Our WPP office’s computers are so crap you can’t even log on to UJM.

  6. http://www.redpepper.org.uk/2014-A-Tory-dystopia/ This may be of interest written in 2008 and its predicting whats happening

  7. Even if you don’t have to allow your ‘advisor’ (personally i think they should now be renamed ‘abuser’) to access your activity surely any site that requires you to log on is able to keep a track of what jobs you look at and apply for simply by associating your applications to your username. So even by not consenting you are still being tracked to some extent, many of the jobs on UJM can now ONLY be applied for if you sign up and login. Im even fairly convinced some of them are only giving out a reference number (which is what i keep getting hassled for at my signings) if you login.

  8. Before registering with Universal Jobmatch…. be wary of agreeing to the Terms of Conditions AND Privacy Policy AND Cookie Policy, which are mandatory through a simple check box, and not simply the discretionary option of DWP authority to access your accounts.

    Candidates, if they sign up, accept that i) Monster operates the database which is owned by the DWP and that they are considered a “Data Processor”, and ii) the DWP may therefore decree how that data is to be processed.

    As previously highlighted, this is in contravention of, for example, Data Protection Legislation.

  9. @ W.King “surely any site that requires you to log on is able to keep a track of what jobs you look at and apply for simply by associating your applications to your username.”

    The DWP may possibly be able to snoop on jobseekers indirectly by tracking their activites through employer user accounts instead of jobseeker accounts. E.g. JCP adviser submits a jobseeker to a specific vacancy at ABC plc, and then checks the jobseeker has applied by looking at ABC plc’s account.

    Also, as I understand it, ABC plc can provide feedback on all jobseekers submitted to its vacancies by selecting options from a dropdown menu.

    Merry Xmas to all, and a special thank you to Johnny Void for all his hard work 🙂

  10. I want to wish everyone a warm, safe, joyful family time, or even a warm happy and safe time…I would especially like to add my sincerest thanks and appreication to Johnny Void for his sterling work and his huge compassionate heart, thank you Johnny…..x

    • Ive just got a Atos questionaire for Xmas. However much I try to smile my family will know there is something troubling me when I see them tomorrow
      Maybe it is irrational to worry but that does not stop me worrying and I cannot think of anything else
      A genuine thank you to Mr Void for sticking up for myself and others.

      A knighthood in my new years honours

  11. 🍸🚬🔫👣

    The only way the crazy cunts running the whole show will be derailed is if they are sanctioned….with extreme prejudice, to use the kinda lingo they love…and understand.

  12. It may be illegal to force a user to accept cookies but the ‘flexibility’ given to JCP staff means that they are the people who decide whether you are satisfactorily proving that you are doing enough to satisfy their job search requirements so they could ask for proof of every job you looked at, for example or they could make it a condition that if you do not wish to accept cookies on your own computer that you use one in a jobcentre etc.
    Expect more guidance for DWP staff in the near future.

  13. I believe the benefits cap has been delayed because they need somewhere to put these large families that will be affected. Since a lot of those that are facing bedroom tax are refusing to move, it could mean families with children facing the benefit cap out on the street, but those with extra bedrooms should not have to be forced to move away from family or the home they have customized to suit their needs, just because governments have stolen council housing and turned it into homes for sale, thus reducing homes to those in need and trying to make those with extra rooms feel selfish or guilty again does not mean they should have to move. A home is not just a number of rooms that may be only used temporarily, a home is where you put down roots within a community,

    • IDS is a right tool, it’s hardly surprising his stupid ill conceived welfare reforms have hit the buffers… failure as party leader and failure as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions…failure! failure! failure!. This man has no capacity of genuine emotion, calling him a man is being generous. Anyone renting in the private sector will most likely have a spare room, it’s stupid looking at things that way.. maybe the room was used once, family member died.. things like that. The coalition are absolutely insane to continue in the same direction when it is clear to everyone with an average level of intelligence this is all doomed to fail, they need to find their money elsewhere.. at the top table for starters seeing as it was at that very table this mess started… unrelenting greed by people who already have too much.

      I often wonder in this day and age how far people are willing to be pushed, it seems much further than in previous years, i sometimes wonder if a threshold even exists in society any longer, maybe this has more bearing in immigration where there is no great love for the country because it is merely an adopted country for those living here under btitish citizenship. The older generation are too old now, the younger one’s are a mix of lower to upper classes. There seems to be a crumbling backbone of carelessness that manifests in the form of “we’ll get by”.. some people need to understand this is not WW2 over again… It’s simply a coalition locking this country into a fascist rule with facist policies, with a prime minister who cannot command any level of respect just a few claps and nods when spouting his rhetoric. The whole lot need dropping like a bad habit, the sooner the better, or this country will just be a mass of rich shameless and super yuppies will appear.. i think more people need to open their mouthes, write letters, create banners and start shouting.. shouting just like IDS when confornted with the reality of his stupidness when the subject of his reforms is ridiculed, he loves that far too much for my liking… mayeb they should move him out of the position to immigration… she if he can track down thos 200,000 in the uk illegally, no doubt now on false documents and passport, with a G.P and a false identity and claiming benefits.

      • Steven2011@lavabit.com

        It is many more than 200,000. I would say it is more like 1,000,000 plus. Any remotely sane and rational government would bring immigration down to tiny numbers (banning unskilled immigration entirely) whilst we have an unemployment crisis so that rules out Labour, Tories, Lib Dems, Greens, Respect and UKIP leaving the BNP.

    • The bed room tax is unfair and yeah no one gave us a guarantee that life was fair. However I will back up my claim for unfainess Let’s just say for arguments sake a lone parent has 2 children both of the same gender aged say 12 and 15 they will be deemed to have a spare bedroom and be eligible for the 14% housing benefit but if a women has 2 children of the opposite gender aged 12 and 15 they will not be liable for the bedroom tax this to me is penilising parents for the gender of their children.
      This government is even parents for letting their children sleep now, they really have gone beyond a damn joke. They’ll be charging for fresh air soon and dreams. Trust me I am not joking either. xxx

  14. Universal jobsmatch will still be accessible by dwp,, but to refuse jobcentre staff the right to nose into your job search will leave you sanctioned by computer instead of staff if they feel you are not doing enough to find work, letting jc staff off the hook – yet are still every bit as culpable in my eyes.

    • The DPA still has the ability to thwart that aspect, in that you have the right for data processing by automated means to not be used to your disadvantage

  15. The inevitable collapse of the Welfare Reform bill makes it all the more urgent to have a positive alternative see
    for the Citizens’ Income. @boycott welfare has already retweeted my latest post. If the Void could do the same . . .
    Just to go back to means tested benefits plays into the hands of the anti-scrounger press . and govt.

  16. This may be slightly off topic but Iain Duncan Smith has won the Thurrock Heckler S**t of the Year award – http://thuraltmedia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/st-of-year-award.html

  17. If you sign up to Universal Jobmatch do you have to give the Jobcentre your gateway number? If you don’t how will they be able to identify you on the database? National insurance number? Postcode coupled with first and last names? Is there any way you can prevent the Jobecentre from being able to find your account?

  18. they will be able to locate that since its on the government’s system.personally i don’t like the look of any of this.the work programme provider i am with a number of the people he see’s, passwords and id numbers stored on a nokia flip phone,i didn’t take my details he logs into someone else’s account and applies for a vacancy for say me.

    this site should be immediately withdrawn,some people who are desperate for work will try anything,more worryingly at face value,people will be intimidated into giving information to these unscrupulous people for fear of losing their benefits,risk being sanctioned for a possible scam vacancy,more importantly some could let third guard down and be lured into trouble.

    theres just to much risk and with this.the dwp as in the past will try to disclaim responsibility.

  19. Regarding the “job match” site. If anyone is compelled to use it, and you must accept the cookie and are worried about having your browsing data looked at, there’s a very simple solution.

    Download another browser than the one you use day to day – say Opera or Safari for example. Only use that browser for accessing the DWP site and searching for jobs.

  20. Sanctioning will now be done by insensitive machines – well that’s all you need to know about Jobcentre employees!

  21. Universal Poverty

    As said by john Bottcher but my spin
    use firefox for personel browsing (YOURSELF)
    then use chrome only for UJM
    download addons Cookie for chrome and history eraser
    after useing ULM run Cookie for chrome and delete all cookies then tick every box in history eraser and run that, it will close your browser and everything will be clean (It doent just erase history but also sanitizes the browser) repeat this process everytime you use UJM.

  22. DrunkenShit, arms dealer,killer, studied fascism in Italy, proud of killing the disabled, is who Osborne, Cameron & Clegg conspired to put in charge of benefits for the disadvantaged and the poor.
    Kinda says it all.

  23. Latest from my local paper front page headline( bridgwater murcury), there are three jobs to every jobseaker at the job centre, there are 1100 jobseakers in sedgmore that works out 3300 jobs available in my area, so why are they unemployed, Ive counted all the jobs that have been on the UJM in the last month Which amounts to less than 100 jobs. If thats not propaganda sounds more like slander of the unemployed…………….

  24. ” However there will be no requirement for claimants to tick the box giving Jobcentre staff access to snoop on their account, so don’t!”

    – which is good, but i’m more concerned about having to not just create an account (at a pinch you could just create an email account separate from your regular ones), but having to upload personal data such as a CV>

    Not only that, but there seems to be nothing stopping the WP providers from mandating people to do all of these things, even if the DWP can’t.

  25. On the old DWP jobsearch site you had to ring up instead of register with Monster. Does this mean that the Jobsearch phoneline is now closed and all those call centre staff, as shit as it was, are out of work?

  26. BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – SAME MONOLOGUE DIFFERENT RHETORIC No surprise about Thatcher’s plans it was banded about in the eighties you would have to work for your benefits ,there would be charges to enter local parks ,libraries would close ,but unlike now the Tories had opposition from other parties as well as her own .Everything is cyclic there’s nothing new on the table its just taken 30 more years to convince ,by stealth and deceit that the only way forward by Governments is to make cuts ,not mend broken Britain .Creating jobs would redress the balance between the haves and have nots but that would unbalance the class system and give workers a bigger say in Government Policy through weight of numbers and the threat of the withdrawal of labour .It suits all present day Political Parties to get revenue through financial dealings than put their backs into creating something that could cause opposition to their authority same old rhetoric in a different format .www.brokenbritainundertories.com

  27. try cc cleaner (its free), wipes all cookies from any browser used

  28. This is a poem I wrote in 2009 when new labour were in power, entitled REVOLTING RULERS VERSUS REVOLTING PEASANTS

    When capitalist’s income is compromised
    by excessive lifestyles and low enterprise
    They devise a system to cover their loss
    Where the poor end up bearing all of the cost.

    Then state resources are mobilized
    to take advantage of their demise
    Our infrastructure is then rebuilt
    on the back of cheap labour and community guilt.

    The super highway is used to fool
    the voters that there’s democratic rule
    by asking us all to pull together
    while they are selling us down the river.

    With every cruel,sleazy suggestion
    being fed to the public for our digestion
    on how to make our economy work
    it’s THEIR economy you capitalist jerk/

    These masters of the Universe
    wreak havoc when they go diverse
    where profits from commodities
    take precedence over HUMAN needs.

    There’s no such thing as Boom and Bust
    when buying and selling all of us.
    Corrupt C.B.I. wants to tax prostitution
    an horrific bi-product of world destitution.

    Then this alternative economy
    sees drug dealing, gambling, extortion run free
    appealing to those without any class
    the monied, titled with plenty of brass.

    You can borrow from their wealthy pool
    if prepared to follow their golden rule
    do as they say not as they do
    they are the rulers and you are just you.

    So time to revolt
    time to run free.
    Get rid of their slave economy.

  29. Pingback: 2012 in review: Notes on the year the world didn’t end | Cautiously pessimistic

  30. Pingback: Will Welfare Reform Collapse Due to IDS’s Blundering? – Johnny Void - Welfare News Service

  31. Sanctions info : Harsha.parmar@dwp.gsi.gov.uk This person deals with enquiries about sanctions at the DWP.

  32. 020 7449 5923 Harsha Parmar DWP Sanctions information.

  33. Pingback: Universal Jobmatch Not Mandatory PCS Confirms | the void

  34. Pingback: S**t of the year award | The Thurrock Heckler

  35. Collapsing of welfare reforms… what’s coming next? I can’t imagine..

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