'Fraudulent' universal jobmatch site exploiting unemployed - MP

Thu, 06/03/2014 - 13:43 -- nick

The government's flagship universal jobmatch site has been accused of exploiting and failing unemployed people by a respected MP.

Those on Jobseeker's Allowance are forced to sign up and use the site, which carries information on jobs, as a condition of receiving the benefit.

But an investigation by Frank Field, the veteran Labour MP, has shown that more than half of all the jobs advertised on it do not meet its conditions or the law.

Problems include adverts not being for an "actual job or work opportunity", companies using premium rate phone numbers to make money, not paying the minimum wage and charging applicants to apply or start work.

Field contacted the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) after some of his constituents told him they had been ripped off by fake companies they had found theough universal jobmatch.

The DWP told him that more than 352,000 jobs on the system were suspicious, and said it was writing to those companies giving them five days to clean up their acts under threat of their accounts being terminated.

It expects this to be done by the end of March.

Last month, Channel 4 News found that around 11,000 jobs on the system did not exist.

The apparent lack of checks means the fakes included MI5 assassins and mafia couriers, while those that may have existed but should not have received this government stamp of approval included adverts for prostitutes.

The rule demanding jobseekers sign up is still in place, meaning the DWP is putting them in situations that could potentially be harmful to both their prospects and purses.

In another shocking development, Field revealed that a fake company had advertised on universal jobmatch and actually interviewed people inside a jobcentre, stealing money from them for non-existent work.

He believes Iain Duncan Smith needs to get a grip on the failing system:

"The heart of the government's welfare reform programme is bedevilled with fraud and, in its current state, it is out of control.

"Anyone can place an advertisement on the site in the space of five minutes by ticking a few boxes. Ministers need to get a grip before more people fall victim to fraudsters preying on them with the helping hand of a major government department."

This is just the latest example of the DWP's inability to manage an IT system.

It has been widely criticised for its failures on Universal Credit, with the development running over budget and losing millions of pounds, as well as being accused of mismanagement by the National Audit Office.

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