Monday, 7 April 2014

Turning the screw

I didn't see all of the interview with Iain Duncan Smith on the Andrew Marr programme yesterday.  Just enough to realise that it would be no different to all the rest.  But after I'd had to switch off he was apparently asked about the Maria Miller case, and said that there was the danger of a witch hunt against her.  That's what has made all the headlines, of course.  No one cares what he said about "welfare".
But if it was a bland interview (with the usual lies) it was because he was too embarrassed to make the announcement he had been planning.  We had it anyway.  As the Telegraph headlined it on Saturday, Benefit cheats face higher fines and losing their homes.  Not good timing.  What it amounts to is that there will be a crackdown on fraudsters, who could be forced to sell their homes.  How many benefits cheats actually own their own homes, he didn't say.  And pensioners who claim top-up benefits they're not entitled to will also be rooted out.  Fine.  But even IDS could see that the announcement didn't sit well with the latest scandal about an MP and her second home.
The other announcement about turning the screw on the unemployed was given to Esther McVey.  It was left to the Guardian to give a full account of this; but whose idea it was to headline it including the stupid phrase "to end 'signing-on culture'" I don't know.  Apparently McVey hadn't at that point actually made the announcement, but the paper had an advance copy.  She chirrups: 
"With the economy growing, unemployment falling and record numbers of people in work, now is the time to start expecting more of people if they want to claim benefits. It's only right that we should ask people to take the first basic steps to getting a job before they start claiming jobseeker's allowance – it will show they are taking their search for work seriously.  This is about treating people like adults and setting out clearly what is expected of them so they can hit the ground running. In return, we will give people as much help and support as possible to move off benefits and into work because we know from employers that it's the people who are prepared and enthusiastic who are most likely to get the job.  This change will mean people start their claim ready to look for work and will show they are serious about finding a job as quickly as possible."
That is so absurd and deeply patronising that you wonder if she knows anything at all about the system as it is, or about the history of social security.  What these new measures amount to is that in the week between losing your job and being allowed to sign on you must i) register with Universal Job Match and ii) produce a CV.  
Yes, that's the UJM which has been shown to be hopelessly riddled with fraudulent and duplicate vacancies, and which most reputable employers now avoid.  But you must register with it.  And as you do, you can contemplate the fact that your internet connection will have to go because you can't now afford it.  A CV as well?  Perhaps you've never had to have one and you need a bit of guidance.  Tough.  If you go to sign on without one - or perhaps without one which passes muster with the JC "adviser" - you'll be turned away.  All those people who don't have access to a computer, and wouldn't know how to use one if they did, will be left floundering.  And all those who haven't heard about the new rules, and naively thought that they were entitled to state benefits if they were out of work, will be turned away because they are not "taking their search for work seriously".
Many experienced claimants have by now sussed what is going on here.  It's just a new way of delaying benefit payments, perhaps for ever.


  1. The double standards of some of these MPs is disgusting. In case your interested Esther Mcvey is on the Agenda o ITV tonight.

  2. What McVey is suggesting is already happening and has been for at least eighteen months. There is nothing new in this announcement - she is simply listing what you have to do NOW.

    Of course, she misses the point totally because the main barrier to the unemployed finding work is not because they do not have a cv or a bad attitude but simply a lack of jobs. This is something the Tories do not admit and have not tackled.

    I just wonder if this announcement implies that the Tories have run out of ideas to solve the long-term unemployment crisis - remember Workfare was supposed to begin this month. Perhaps they are having problems implementing it and finding charities to work with them?

    1. What's new is that you have to have registered with UJM and made a CV before you can sign on. As for CWP, I haven't seen any announcement of the contractors for this yet.

    2. @Historian at my last signing on I was informed that I should prepare myself for CWP,I asked prepare how? No reply. I am under the impression that similar to most announcements from IDS/McVey there really is no substance,IAD's were supposed to be installed months ago,upon completing the WP ,6 Months ago it was highly publicised that all returners would be in Training,MIR,Work Placement or daily signings within days...Hit Squads would provide tailored one on one support,total spin,1/3 of the JCP staff have been made redundant at my JCP since X-Mas and it is apparent that those left are more concerned about their own jobs,it has returned to a quick in/out routine.

  3. "Esther McVey, the employment minister, will launch a significant government push on welfare this week by saying that unemployed people must prepare for their first interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser by preparing a CV. They must also set up an email address and register on the government's jobs website." (Guardian)

    So if / when a jobseekers information is lost and their personal safety, finances and identity are all compromised, I hope to God that jobseekers take a class action against McVey, Smith, DWP and JCP for making them use a broken system riddled with fake jobs, spam and is a blatant security risk.

    "The government's plans were thrown into confusion on Sunday when Duncan Smith appeared to steer clear of any policy announcements during an appearance on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show" (Guardian)

    As well he might considering the disgraceful Maria Miller scandal!

    "He (Smith) had little to say about an authoritative Sunday Telegraph report that said the government would give bailiffs greater powers to seize assets from welfare cheats, and even force the sale of a house. There will also be higher fines for claimants who give inaccurate information on official forms" (Guardian)

    So selling a house from someone who commits benefit fraud eh? At what level of fraud does happen? And how much more will it cost to put even an individual up in a hostel or B&B let alone a family? Naked ideology before intelligence. And how about a government minister who gives misleading and inaccurate information on his CV, eh Smith? Or Univ. Jobmatch, a system that is riddled with misleading information regarding vacancies.

    "It's only right that we should ask people to take the first basic steps to getting a job before they start claiming jobseeker's allowance – it will show they are taking their search for work seriously." (McVey in the Guardian)

    But most jobseekers do take these steps. Many go considerably above and beyond them. What we have are govt. ministers, the DWP, JCP, the W2W sector and a myriad of 'advisers' all clueless as to what the hell to do. Thus we end up with the holy grail of 'the CV'. With the end result of 'tailored' CV's created by JCP and WP providers being WORSE than the ones crafted by jobseekers themselves.

    Anyone redoing MY CV had better have attained a good level of English. Sadly, many advisers are less educated and experienced than many of their clients they purport to help. This is made considerably worse by the paucity of staff training within the W2W sector.

  4. What these new measures amount to is that in the week between losing your job and being allowed to sign on you must i) register with Universal Job Match and ii) produce a CV.

    Hasn't this been announced before?

  5. Is IDS creating a Goverment monopoly on job search engines by making UJS mandatory ? Why should we trust the UJS with our personal data ? What has happen to the Conservative 'free market' when it comes the monopoly on UJS and what is the EU's monopolies commissions view of this ?

  6. I'm on ESA WRAG and was referred by my A4E advisor to attended a course run by the National Careers Service (Babcock - a private company). When I told the 'Tutor' that I had a gap of ten years on my CV due to an illness related to stress she laughed at me and said I would never get a job if I revealed that. I was advised to lie!!


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