DWP documents confirm that the Universal Jobmatch website, the government job search site plagued by spam, scams and spoof vacancies, will be at the heart of the new conditionality for claiming benefits.
Lord Fraud’s recent begging letter to local councils asking for help with the Universal Credit shambles reveals the first scant details of how the new benefit system may (or may not) work in practice.
The document features a “claimant’s journey” which details how people will access the new benefit. Claimants, many of whom will have never used a computer or don’t have access to broadband, will first need to open an online Universal Credit account. It is anticipated many people may have to attend some form of training or support from local authorities or other agencies to learn how to make an initial claim.
Claimants will then be expected to provide the necessary documents for the claim, such as proof of identity, information on sickness or disabilities, details of children and any income or savings. This is also likely to include the vast reams of evidence required to claim Housing Benefits, such as Tenancy Agreements and in some cases even bank statements. It has not been explained how claimants will be expected to provide this information, but it sounds like another trip to the Jobcentre.
After the claim has been submitted claimants will be scheduled to an interview. At this interview they will lectured on what they need to do to look for work and be “made aware of the support available to them including Universal Jobmatch”.
Only then will a decision on a Universal Credit claim be made. This is Lord Fraud’s idea of simplifying the benefit system, by moving: “claimants towards self service and automation and away from face to face delivery”.
The document also gives information on what will be expected of claimants to maintain a claim. This gives the clearest indication yet that DWP snooping via the bodged Universal Jobmatch website will be at the heart of the new benefits regime. Lord Fraud’s currently non-existent advisors are encouraged to:
“Ensure claimants are aware their obligations in receiving UC eg to look for work, and of all the support available to them to assist them in finding work including helping them to set up a jobmatch account and create a CV/sign up for job matching”
When Universal Credit is launched, five million people will face the same job-seeking conditions as those currently on unemployment benefits.
Part time or low income self-employed workers will be expected to constantly look for ‘more or better paid work’. There will be unprecedented powers for the DWP to force single parents and sick or disabled claimants into endless ‘job related activity’ – which could include workfare.
The only possible way the DWP can police this draconian regime is to spy on people’s job seeking activity via the Government jobs website, Universal Jobmatch,
It is currently not mandatory for claimants to register with Universal Jobmatch, although Iain Duncan Smith has said that it will become so at some point this year. Even then however, unless Iain Duncan Smith changes privacy laws, claimants will not have to give the DWP access to their accounts. According to the department’s own figures, only around half of claimants so far have ticked the box which allows jobcentre staff to monitor use of the website.
It is believed that the DWP will attempt to subvert privacy and cookie laws by expecting people to use computers inside Jobcentres to look for work on the website. These are Jobcentres and computers which will already be overwhelmed by people making initial Universal Credit claims and forwarding their monthly income details to the DWP. It is also expected that unemployed claimants will still be expected to continue to sign on fortnightly as they do at the moment.
The upcoming chaos is hard to imagine, even for those who have followed the shambolic welfare reforms. Imagine a busy Jobcentre, seeing three times the number of people than they do currently, many of whom will be seriously unwell, or have kids running round. Then cram in your local civic centre or Housing Benefit office.
On top of that throw in a packed internet cafe full of people who in many cases have never used a computer. Some of these people may have literacy difficulties, some may not be able to read or even speak English, some will have drug or alcohol problems, many will no doubt be furious due to missed payments or delays.
Lord Fraud, with his gilded toff’s existence, knows nothing of this world. For the rest of us it is already all too familiar. There is no mass recruitment planned at the DWP to deal with this extra workload. Jobcentres and benefit offices are already creaking under the strain of recession. Many of the agencies Lord Fraud expects to help so-called vulnerable people make claims for Universal Credit have closed due to cuts.
Many have expected the IT behind the new welfare system, which depends on the largest and most complex database ever constructed by a government, to be the main obstacle facing Universal Credit. In truth, even if it works (stop laughing), it is only the beginning of the DWP’s problems.
Read Lord Fraud begging local authorities for help at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/uc-local-service-support-framework.pdf
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