From next year, unemployed claimants will be required to use a new government job search website and face benefit sanctions if it 'shows' they are not trying to find work. Work and pensions secretary, the insidious Iain Duncan Smith, a man who lied about his own qualifications on his C.V. and website, has hailed the Universal Jobmatch scheme – which will operate in England, Scotland and Wales – as a brilliant revolution in the labour market. Duncan Smith said it will be mandatory for jobseeker's allowance (JSA) claimants to use the site from early in the new year in order to keep their £71 per week.
Actual job advertisement currently on the the Universal Jobmatch website.
The site will use online cookies – tracking code that enables snoopers to follow your internet searches – to follow job seekers around the internet, and make sure they are actually looking for jobs. The Job Centres will know how many searches you've done on the government jobs website, and if you've turned down any viable opportunities. You can turn off the cookies, but then your benefit advisor can "sanction" you, making you attend "mandatory work activity" – i.e. free shelf-stacking that takes away low-skilled jobs, making it even harder for people to get out of being unemployed.
The Universal Jobmatch website has been criticised by some who fear it will be used purely as a means of sanctioning people, or could lead to breaches of privacy. There are also claims that the scheme will be vulnerable to sabotage, as bogus jobs by fake employers, collecting sensitive personal data, are put on the site.
Duncan Smith said only 6,000 jobs had been blocked from the site as inappropriate and 27 bogus employers removed since the launch of the scheme.
The site has a dropdown menu requiring jobseekers to explain why they have not applied for a job and are offered a range of reasons including, "job does not match my interests; is not in my desired industry; does not match my skills; is below my salary requirements; is too far away from my home; have already applied for the job; does not interest me". There is no option of: 'This looks a bit dodgy to me.'
Duncan Smith said: "Jobseekers will be able to turn down jobs, but if the adviser thinks they are pretty specious reasons, he may call you in and say, 'We think you should be applying for these jobs'."