Tag Archives: online jobsearch

Claimants Snub Universal Jobmatch and Foil DWP’s Snooping Plans

keepcalm-dont-signUPDATE 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/universaljobmatch/

In a major blow for Iain Duncan Smith’s snooping plans, around half of unemployed claimants have refused to allow Jobcentre staff to monitor their online job seeking accounts.

A recent Freedom of Information has revealed that there are currently 1,267,245 job seeking accounts* registered with the Government website Universal Jobmatch.  Of these just 765,054, around 40%, have not ticked the box allowing DWP access to their account.

For three months now Jobcentres have been using every trick in the book to sign claimants up to the new website which is intended to monitor jobseeking activity.  Many claimants are believed to have been wrongly threatened with benefit sanctions should they refuse to sign up to the website which has been plagued by attempts at identity fraud, spam, scams, spoof jobs and even sex work.

Despite relentless pressure from Jobcentre advisors, of the 1.56 million people currently claiming Jobseekers Allowance in the UK, only around half have granted the DWP access to monitor their accounts.

Whilst Iain Duncan Smith has muttered that eventually signing up to the site might be mandatory for some claimants, it is not the current DWP policy.  Signing up to the website is not mandatory.  Claimants cannot be issued with a Jobseeker’s Direction forcing them to use the site and cannot  be forced to tick the box granting DWP access to the account.

For information from the PCS Union on the current position visit:  http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/department_for_work_and_pensions_group/dwp-news.cfm/id/78E359C6-7B09-4FC6-98EBD4696432C199

For those who have been tricked or bullied into signing up to the site against their will a recent FOI explains how consent can be revoked:

“You do not need to explain the reasons why you have chosen not to continue with your UJ account, but your adviser will need to know that you are no longer using this service.  This is so that they can review and agree a new Jobseeker’s Agreement with you, to reflect what other steps you will be taking instead of using Universal Jobmatch to help improve your chances of finding work. 
 
(d) How do I go about revoking my consent on a existing UJ account? 
 
Firstly, if you wish to continue using UJ but no longer want to let DWP have access to your account then you need to un-check the box in your profile which states ‘I authorise DWP to view my accounts, including job search activity, feedback and notes’. 
 
If you wish to completely close down your UJ account you will need to use the Contact Us facility within the service and ask for your account to be terminated.  
  
DWP Central FoI Team”

For all the latest Universal Jobmatch details (and much more including your rights on the Work Programme) visit: http://consent.me.uk/

* Of the 1,267,245 Universal Jobmatch accounts it is unclear how many of these are Jobseekers Allowance claimants.  Registration to the site is open to anyone so it is likely many of those accounts do not belong to current claimants.

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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

Universal Jobmatch – The Brutal Farce at the DWP Continues

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/universaljobmatch/

The DWP’s obsession with forcing unemployed people into endless, and often pointless, work related activity, is set to reach new heights when Universal Jobmatch is launched next week.

According to the DWP the service is a: “new, free, online job posting and matching service for companies and jobseekers.”  Run by private company  Monster Jobs, the site will replace the previous online job search facilities provided by the Jobcentre.

Despite earlier denials from the DWP that unemployed claimants will be not forced to sign up to the new site, it now appears as if registering will be mandatory (as the above picture reveals).  Claimants will be expected to sign away their rights under the Data Protection Act and hand a vast amount of personal detail over to the DWP, who can them pass the information onto anyone they choose.  The legality of this is unsure, as is how and when sanctions might be applied – keep an eye on the internet for new developments.

Jobcentre advisors will have full access to personal accounts, meaning they can check on all activity, snoop on job applications, cover letters and CVs as well as ‘suggest’ job vacancies.  Failure to act on the DWP’s suggestions will lead to benefits being sanctioned.

When Universal Credit is eventually introduced, unemployed people will be expected to spend 35 hours a week on ‘work related activity’ (otherwise known as looking for a job).  Millions more people who are self-employed or in part time work, including even single parents,  will be expected to constantly look for more or better paid work as a condition of in work benefit entitlement.  Sick and disabled claimants in the Work Related Activity Group will also be expected to look for work or face benefits being stopped.

If the practice of mandatory sign up to the service continues, then millions of people could be forced to sign away data protection rights and allow DWP officials to have full access to their online job search activity.

Concerns have been raised that this new system will be used to enforce the 35 hours a week job search rule, with DWP officials monitoring time spent on the website, or the numbers of jobs applied and searched for.  Claimants could be forced to waste both their own and potential employer’s time by sending in endless applications for jobs they are not qualified for.  Job Seekers could feel compelled to spend hours on computers pointlessly clicking their way round the site in the hope of demonstrating job seeking activity.

So far it is unclear exactly how any monitoring will take place.  With DWP staff under constant pressure to sanction benefit claims it is far from unthinkable that a lack of Universal Jobmatch activity will be used as an excuse to stop benefits.   From now on Jobcentres will not just compel claimants to look for jobs, but may compel claimants how they should look for jobs.  Jobcentre’s have a notoriously desperate track record of actually helping people find work, but still claimants will be forced to abandon their own initiative and follow the diktats of DWP staff.

The DWP are triumphantly announcing that the new service will allow job seekers to access job search via their smart phone, or wireless connections.

Once again the clueless DWP is assuming that people living on £70 a week –  or less for those under 25 – all secretly have iphones and superfast broadband.  For the impoverished few claimants without the latest gadgets, they claim that internet cafes can be used to access the new mandatory service.

Internet cafes can cost between £1 and £3 an hour depending on where you live.  Even if unemployed claimants – who are increasingly being pushed into using food banks for survival – can afford to spend half their income on internet cafes, these are not secure environments for revealing confidential personal information.

This  Government’s willing ignorance when it comes to personal online security is likely to lead to identity fraud on an unprecedented scale.  Those with little knowledge of computers will be vulnerable to having their entire identity stolen by any dodgy bastard who hangs around internet cafes offering to ‘help’ people access benefit services.  And that’s before the site inevitably gets hacked and millions of people’s personal information is placed in the public domain.

The problems with Universal Jobmatch don’t end there.

Other recruitment agencies are hardly likely to hand over all of their vacancies to Monster Jobs.  It is likely many will boycott the site completely – meaning there could be even less jobs on the new scheme than the pitiful amount available under the old.

There even seems to be potential for the site to be used by stalkers, abusive ex-partners or loan sharks to track people down.  Employers, of any size, will be able to select candidates for job vacancies who will then be compelled to apply or face sanctions.  Whilst personal details are to be anonymised, this still means any employer could for example gain the details of every unemployed teaching assistant in the local area (or people with even more specific skills/qualifications).  If the employer informs the DWP they want to interview these people then claimants will have no choice but to send in applications complete with personal details.

According to a must read article published on the Open Rights Group website, potential ’employers’ will only be asked to provide a verified post code and phone number to gain access to the service.

Like so many of Iain Duncan Smith’s crazy schemes, Universal Jobsmatch is not just draconian, but fucking stupid.   It is also likely to be expensive.  Whilst poor families are being socially cleansed from big cities and disabled people face brutal benefit cuts, the DWP is throwing money around like confetti on endless reforms which are doomed to disaster.

For more details on Universal Jobmatch, and many other areas of data protection laws relating to claimants visit:  http://www.consent.me.uk/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid