Thursday, 6 December 2012

Turning the tide?

Thanks to a correspondent for drawing my attention to this item on Channel 4 News tonight; I missed it.  It vindicates what many people have been saying, on this blog and elsewhere.  The Universal Jobmatch website is vulnerable to hackers stealing your personal data, simply because no one is checking whether the vacancies advertised are genuine.  And people are being told, by Jobcentre and Work Programme staff, that they were obliged to sign up when they're not.  A good bit of work by a group of "hackers" - though they didn't have to actually hack the site to expose its failures, just register as employers using clearly false details.

You will not have noticed any references to the Work Programme in all the discussion of the Chancellor's financial plans this week.  I wonder why that is.  But when you got over the blow about benefits effectively being cut, you may have noticed something of a backlash in the media.  Osborne began his attack with the usual reference to hard-working people going off to work in the morning while their neighbours, "living a life on benefits", slept in.  But the opposition and commentators were quick to point out that 60% of working age benefits go to people who are in work.  Not that that bothered Osborne, who talked about "fairness".  And it didn't bother the Express, which talked about "Britain's benefits free-for-all" and "state handouts", deliberately ignoring the truth (so what else is new?).  Now the Guardian has reported that Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, didn't like Osborne's rhetoric much.  "Cable ....  distanced himself from the way in which the chancellor had sold his squeeze on welfare benefits in his autumn statement, saying he identified with those claimants who resented being regarded as a scrounger. 'I think that kind of approach and language is completely wrong.  I made it fairly clear that that stuff about people being unemployed at home with the curtains drawn is not the way, certainly, I would have addressed it. I think most people out there are looking for work, most people in this country are very conscientious, and we should do what we can to support them.'"  Good.  It needs more people to say that.  The government is playing a game with the Labour party by introducing legislation on this below-inflation rise in benefits, daring them to oppose it.  Maybe they'll have the courage to do so.

The Huffington Post has published an interesting article headed "Work Programme increases hardship and makes little difference to compliance".  At last, some common sense.

So are we beginning to see just a glimmer of the turning of the tide?  Maybe not.  But we live in hope.


  1. I missed Channel 4 News tonight, Good, they mentioned your blog site, please carry on with it, I find it very informative and I read it daily.

  2. After "Working" my 30 hours WRA this week I had to sign on,I showed up at the JCP in full working gear Rigger boots,hard hat,safety glasses and bright yellow jacket(also covered in plaster,mud and building leftovers)stunned the Adviser asked if I had been working off the books(funny because I had to provide all the gear myself,the WP did give me boots,but they were crap)I replied no I am on WRA, Since when? I produced a letter from JCP and my WP agreement stating this she was stunned..(1)Private builder,yes (2)Does this benefit the community? (3)Health and safety? (4) Will you get a job out of this?NO(5) Travel time 4 Hour 10 minutes round trip..Supervisor is called in..Brief discussion and a call to the WP Sub..I am now in violation of my JSA and subject to sanctions,as I am not available to actively seek work(JCP you will not be sanctioned,we have to notify you)Travel time exceeds the guidelines the WP needs to sort this out,,When? In the next 30 days..Fine my WRA ends in 2 weeks what do I do? Continue? Appointment with the WP today to find out.This is a piss poor way to run a programme,reminds me of a couple of kids playing house,the second things go wrong they run home to"mummy and daddy,also known as the DWP"

    1. Point out what your jobseekers agreement says to any adviser when told you have to go do a placement or WRA, CAP or MWA because I think you'll find it states on page 2:

      I am available for these days and these hours - Monday to Sunday.

      If your on a placement at a firm doing 30 hours a week - then your not available for work are you? - and you will be open to sanctions.

      It's another Catch 22.

    2. mkmky: When you say WRA, I assume you mean Mandatory Work Activity (MWA).

      I think the maximum travelling time you can be required to do is 90 mins each way door-to-door: 3 hours total. The 4 hour 10 min round trip is well out of order!

      Were you covered by the builders' employers liability insurance? If the builder is getting a succession of people on MWA doing work experience he will need additional insurance cover.

      Nice of your jobcentre to say they won't be sanctioning you. You should make a formal complaint in writing to both your jobcentre and your provider. They are both in serious breach of their own rules and regulations.

      You can refuse to continue the placement based on the travelling time alone.

  3. Back from the WP,long story short no longer required to attend WRA.The WP Adviser,Supervisor and what I assume was some sort of Legal counsel,have agreed the WP did not follow even the basic minimum guidelines set out by the DWP regarding MWA or MWRA but instead were using the "Black Box Method" in administering this programme,they will review all Clients involved and make sure that they are in compliance with DWP guidelines.Travel expenses will no longer be capped and will be paid at the actual cost incurred(actually got a small refund) The whole point that I was trying to make to the WP as a whole is you cannot pick and choose what regulations you will enforce but the WP are also subjected to them..It cuts both ways.

  4. I would never give security information like National Insurance number, passwords etc out anyway, no one needs that information until you have the job and if they ask for it I say no. I never upload CVs for people to access either now after getting loads of spam emails saying they'd seen my cv on a website. I suppose if the Job Ctre makes me upload a cv I'll ask them if they can guarantee that my information will be safe otherwise I won't do it. No one can make you do that as long as you're doing all you can to look for work.

  5. My husband and I are both (long-term) unemployed and we keep our curtains shut to help keep the cold out, and to keep the heating from the radiators inside, not because we are asleep.
    We live an austere life: no TV, no car, no oven, rationing of trips by bus, no convenience food, no insurances, no alcohol, no tobacco, no mobile phones, we need to save to buy our stamps so that we can keep sending letters to potential employers because online job applications might as well be lottery tickets, and no housing benefits.
    The Work Programme we've been with over a year now is Reed, and it is obvious they have 'parked' us (now that they've received their £900 from the government for both of us for being signed up with them).
    The competition out there is HUGE for ALL advertised (and ‘hidden’) sustainable full-time work (a steady monthly salary would improve our lives 1,000,000% we both know that and wish it for ourselves).
    We don't buy any convenience food... everything we eat is cooked from scratch at home. This winter, half of our radiators have been switched off so that we can pay for our energy hike in prices (it is shocking by how much electricity tariffs have gone up, much higher than gas tariff, even though BOTH are shockingly expensive – and it doesn’t make any difference that we use uSwitch to get the best deal possible… it is still a monopoly cartel of price fixing.
    Even though we are suffering (permanent house arrest IS soul destroying) - I am incredibly upset for how people with disabilities are being treated - they are being treated SO cruelly - If we have to live austerity in order to save money for them, then that is the right thing to do. We receive slightly over in £56 JSA each with our joint-claim. We also get a bus pass which allows us discounted bus travel (but we have to be very careful how much we spend on travel each month… every trip, by necessity has to serve more than one purpose.)
    On the work program it is clear to us that we have been ‘parked’ - it is up to us to find our own jobs, we both are skilled, willing and able to work and we are wishing for that every day. One day soon one of us will strike it lucky and get that interview, I am hopeful, if we allow ourselves to get depressed, we’ll not perform well during an interview, so we have to force ourselves to be hopeful as best we can.
    Whenever I feel down about our situation... I keep thinking of Mark and Helen Mullins and many other people like them who are suffering more than we are, and I think to myself: "we owe it to people like them to do our best to cope and survive" because the sad thing is, that there is a class civil war happening in this country against the unemployed, the under-employed and the working poor: We are living on class war rations, and that's okay, we're not going to be unemployed forever, even if it takes a long time to get there.
    It is about time that this government started to be more forceful with employers not with claimants of benefits.
    Why don't they start rationing actual full-time jobs that come up by cutting the working week to four days a week in order to bring more people into full-time jobs?
    Why don't they regulate ALL job agencies as well to cut out the faulty middle, so we can all have fair and transparent access to all jobs and all employers?
    Like that WE could ALL have a better chance of surviving this economic disaster, not just security only for the judgemental and job secure ‘others’.

  6. Signed on today. Told by my advisor that the DWP is now checking job searches via Universal Jobcentre accounts i.e. that unless you sign up to the scheme and allow DWP full access you will not get paid.

    1. The PCS (civil service union) say Universal JobMatch is NOT mandatory. Here's the link so you can read it yourself.

      They can only check if you have ticked the box allowing them to monitor to your activity once you have created a account.

    2. as teflon don says, this is not mamdatory but they are telling all at my local job centre it is.

      Heres their own regs on it. lol

      10.7 When the Services are implemented, Jobcentre Plus customers
      (including potential jobseekers) will not be mandated to register and create
      a profile.”
      From: DWP TLMS Schedule 2.1, Authority (Universal Jobmatch)

  7. Just received an E-mail from the WP(Council) 5 staff including my Adviser have been reassigned to different departments,I will be advised of my next appointment by post.This Sub achieved 2.8% and has been found not to have paid the full travel expenses to the client and will now refund the difference(over 14 months,loads)my cynical mind feels that they are about to shut the doors and take the loss...

    1. You really should share your experience of MWA with the Boycott Workfare site. Even though they have heard some horror stories, yours must be one the worst.

      I also think Channel 4 News might be interested too.

  8. This thing about people's curtains being closed when the neighbours are away to their work always annoys me. Firstly if you're off to work early - like before the dawn - opening the damn curtains is an easy thing to forget. Secondly, lots of people work nights in all sorts of jobs and sleep during the day. Still, you can't expect a bunch of idiot poshboys and whining hacks to have any experience of either situation...


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