Diary of a Benefit Striver #5: Universal Job Match

One of the conditions of claiming Job Seekers Allowance is that you have to use the government’s Universal Job Match system. This is run by online recruitment firm Monster. The system is fine in theory but I quickly discovered it has several shortcomings. If you believe the DWP’s propaganda, it is an invaluable tool to help the unemployed find work. I have always found “help” to be non-existent and that UJM is only used to monitor claimants. Thanks to the internet, there are more resources available these days, but UJM is probably the worst. When I started using it, it allowed you to store a CV but no covering letter: this was only changed this year; there were numerous ads with no employer name (listed as “company confidential”); and even more for catalogue distributors.

If a company advertising a vacancy won’t disclose its name, that suggests something dodgy: a bona fide employer would surely have no problem saying who they are. I won’t apply for these on principle. How far do you think a job seeker would get saying this:

“I’d like to apply for this job please”

“Certainly sir, what’s your name?”

“That’s confidential”!!

The catalogue distributor vacancies are little more than pyramid selling scams, requiring a hefty fee to be paid upfront and no guaranteed wage.

It’s also clear that vacancy ads are not properly vetted. A job for a woman to work as a prostitute in a massage parlour was recently on the site and was only removed when the press got hold of it. There have even been ads for hitmen and mafia couriers! I saw another for an “Administartion Assistant”, which required “attention to detail”, something the advert placer clearly lacks.

However, it gets worse. Recent investigations by Labour MP Frank Field, The Guardian and Channel 4 News have revealed that up to half of all vacancies on UJM are bogus or even fraudulent: multiple ads for the same job; ads failing to meet the DWP’s own guidelines; non-existent jobs. The DWP response to the allegations shows just how disconnected they are from reality: “The truth is that the vast majority of employers post genuine jobs, and we crack down on those who don’t play by the rules. We also regularly monitor the site and remove jobs that don’t meet our rules, such as duplicate advertisements or jobs for franchises.” This is yet another example of the incompetence of Iain Duncan Smith’s DWP.

Since these allegations were published, the DWP has removed 120,000 vacancies (about 1/5th of the total). I certainly haven’t seen any catalogue distributors for several weeks, but problems with the site remain. Claims have now surfaced that the DWP will be scrapping UJM in its current form when the contract with Monster ends in 2016, though they have denied this.

In the meantime, the unemployed are forced to use a flawed system that is there mainly to spy on them and which exposes them to the risk of fraud. The situation should never have been allowed to get this bad. Heads should roll. Starting with that liar, that incompetent fool Iain Duncan Smith. Fat chance.

Guardian reports:

Channel 4 News Investigation:

Reports of UJM being scrapped:

UJM spelling error


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