Dec 29 2012
The Void, The Telegraph, With thanks to Bob Chewter
Jobless to be remotely monitored by Government
Benefit claimants will have their online job applications remotely monitored by the Government to see whether they are making serious attempts to find work.
From the beginning of next year, the unemployed will have to look for work through the Coalition’s new Universal Jobmatch website or potentially risk losing their benefits.
The website will scan the CVs of benefit claimants and automatically match them up with job openings that suit their skills.
It will also allow employers to search for new workers among the unemployed and send messages inviting them to interviews.
However, the activities of benefit claimants can also be tracked using devices known as “cookies”, so their Job Centre advisers can know how many searches they have been doing, suggest potential jobs and see whether they are turning down viable opportunities.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said the scheme would “revolutionise” the process of looking for work.
The tracking element of the programme will not be compulsory as monitoring people’s behaviour online without their consent would not be allowed under EU law.
But job advisers are able to impose sanctions such as compulsory work placements or ultimately losing benefits if they feel the unemployed are not searching hard enough.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “If you choose not to take a job that matches you, then the adviser will look at your reasons, and if the adviser thinks ‘actually, these are pretty specious reasons’, he may call you in and say ‘I think you really need to be applying for these jobs’.”
He said the website will mean Job Centre advisers are able to target their help at jobseekers with problems, while letting capable candidates get on with their searches.
“For the very small percentage that have a real problem – maybe they have absolutely no skills – we want them in front of the adviser,” he said.
“And if they’re just not playing ball, they will be in front of the adviser. These are little trip wires, if we think they’re not applying for it. There are lots of things the adviser can do.”
The Work and Pensions Secretary said jobseekers can be hauled in every day if advisers “think they’re not up to the activity” they are meant to be doing.
“We have some interesting programmes like mandatory work activity if the [advisers] think they’re having trouble getting out of bed, if they’re not playing the game.”
Around 690,000 people have signed up to it so far, with more than half giving their Government job adviser access to their profile and activities.
The website has already signed up 370,000 employers and jobseekers are conducting about five million searches a day.
Mr Duncan Smith also confirmed his department is looking at introducing a ‘welfare card’, instead of some benefits, for drug addicts. This could only be used to purchase certain items, such as food and other essentials, stopping them from spending their benefits on drugs.
“I’ve been looking at this process to figure out whether it’s feasible, how would it work, how does it match with legal obligations, so we’ve already been examining this,” he told the BBC’s World at One. “There’s nothing at the moment on plans, but I genuinely think there are some areas where we might want to think about.
“You know, somebody who has a history of real drug addiction, giving people cash sometimes can actually lead to further problems.
Empty Threats and Tantrums Are All Iain Duncan Smith Has Left In Universal Jobmatch Fiasco
Iain Duncan Smith has resorted to increasingly bizarre and empty threats in an effort to defend the shambolic Universal Jobmatch website.
The new job seeking website, which has been plagued by spam, scam and spoof jobs since its launch last month, has the facility for Jobcentre staff to remotely monitor how claimants are using the site. Whilst the DWP is to force everyone on Job Seekers Allowance to register with the site in the New Year, they cannot legally compel claimants to tick the box giving advisors the right to snoop on their activity.
This obvious oversight in the construction of the new regime has led to yet more tantrums from Iain Duncan Smith. Speaking to The Metro shortly before Christmas IDS appeared to suggest that claimants who do not allow Jobcentre staff to snoop on their online job seeking activity could face being hauled into Jobcentres on a daily basis.
When Universal Credit is introduced next year 5 million people will be expected to constantly look for ‘more or better paid’ work as a condition of keeping in-work benefits. Those who are judged not trying hard enough to find jobs may have benefits sanctioned, or be forced into workfare. The enforcement of this job seeking activity is to be ‘digital by default’ – suggesting that in the near future part time workers, sick or disabled claimants and self-employed people forced out of business due to Universal Credit, will all be required to sign up to Universal Jobmatch.
Even if just one in five of those claimants refuse to allow the Jobcentre access to their account, this this would mean around a million people hauled into Jobcentres every day. Currently Jobcentres are running at full capacity, seeing around one and a half million people, mostly once a fortnight. Far from being digital by default, if Iain Duncan Smith’s threats are implemented then the launch of Universal Credit will need to recruit tens of thousands of new public sector workers.
Since this isn’t on the cards anytime soon Iain Duncan Smith’s words should be greeted with the mocking contempt they deserve. There is no legal requirement to tick the box granting the Jobcentre the right to snoop on your account on no way that the DWP can force you to accept cookies on a home computer.
Of perhaps most concern is Iain Duncan Smith’s attempts to threaten claimants with harassment should they exercise their basic legal rights. This is a clear attempt to undermine the principle of equality under the law. If the Secretary of State gets his way then one law for the rich and another for the poor will be firmly enshrined in DWP policy.
One person seems to have spotted that the DWP may be monitoring more than just activity on Universal Jobmatch but also attempting to monitor use of other websites. Keep an eye on the following Freedom of Information request:http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/information_returned_from_cookie/new