Can DWP providers force you to use Universal Jobmatch clones like myworksearch.co.uk and www.avantajobs.com?

Universal Jobmatch (UJ) and consent

It is self-evident that Universal Jobmatch (UJ) can be and is used to facilitate benefit sanctions and total  loss of benefits. This as such is the principle reason the Information Commissioners Office requires that the DWP must obtain users permission (consent)
to access their UJ account.

Clones of UJ

Even so, compulsory DWP Work Programme (WP) and Community Workfare Placement (CWP) workfare providers have created clones of UJ, to undertake supervised Jobsearch.

Against this background, suppliers of these clones and DWP providers have a vested interest not to explicitly inform WP and CWP conscripted participants,  that like UJ, it seems apparent that use and therefore registration with these clones is voluntary. This can be said to be particularly true as these clones are set up so that DWP provider and hence DWP access to user accounts personal data is switched on by default, without any user option or inbuilt safeguard to stop this access in any way.

With this level of default access the DWP and DWP providers are free to use the personal data within these clones to arrange benefit sanctions that can last up to 3 years, as well as completely end entitlement to benefits like Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Examples of Jobmatch clones

MyWorkSearch
“You can also log in and check the extent to which any individual has ­ or has not ­ been learning how to look for work and actively job-searching. You can interact with jobseekers, monitoring tasks as well as suggesting jobs and activities and providing assistance. Most importantly, using the MyWorkSearch data, you can focus your help where it is really needed.” [all of which can be used to facilitate benefit sanctions]
http://www.myworksearch.co.uk/housing-associations/

http://www.avantajobs.com
“Work Programme participants are not mandated to use http://www.avantajobs.com and can therefore choose not to use this site…. If a participant wishes to stop using the website they can do so….where personal data is loaded onto http://www.avantajobs.com DWP remains the data controller…” [owner]
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/181920/response/443194/attach/html/3/5028%20Response.pdf.html
From: DWP Central FoI Team  – 24 October 2011
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/22/avantajobs/

Tips

If asked to register and use, by DWP providers, websites like http://www.avantajobs.com and MyWorkSearch, ask for the request to be put in writing and tell them to also say in writing what would happen if you did not register or use them and do ask them to write who would have access to the personal data uploaded or created within any account, explicitly asking them to say in any written response whether the DWP and DWP providers would have access.

Resources

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Universal Jobmatch: Why does DWP need your permission (consent) to access your account?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says the reason why the DWP needs user permission to access their Universal Jobmatch (UJ) account is because it could be used to have an adverse* and unfair effect on their benefit claims, through benefit sanctions and or loss of entitlement.

“While the DWP is already the data controller for the information, it would be considered ‘unfair’ for the UJM information to be used to consider the customer’s JSA (or similar benefit) claim without the prior permission of the customer being obtained by the DWP” [emphasis added]
ICO 15 May 2015

*Principle 1 of the Data Protection Act requires the DWP, it’s contractors and sub-contractors to process personal data fairly and lawfully and “not use the data in ways that have unjustified adverse effects on the individuals concerned“.

Resources

Disinformation

As @Red_Rescue has a habit of posting what can be considered disinformation about people’s Social Security rights, @refuted has decided to use the Tweet Deck ‘mute‘ function, for the first time. Everyone is advised to always doubt opinion conveyed via social media, particularly when it cannot be easily substantiated by any  independent credible source and or does not contain any links/urls, citations or verifiable references for stated opinions and or direct DWP opinion, guidance, associated rules, legislation or case law.

Discussing or advocating for people’s Social Security rights via Twitter’s 140 character limit is inherently problematic. Some useful places to promote more detalied and evidence based debate are the Rights Net and Unemployment Movement forums. Everyone is also free to set up websites and free blogs through likes of wordpress.com and tumblr.com, such as http://speye.wordpress.com and http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog

Anyone can discuss this further at: http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/welfare-to-work/9007-wp-withdraw-consent-and-qpunishment-for-being-a-cunning-tricksterq

Background:

Tweet by @refuted: Work Programme (WP): U can still withdraw consent to share personal data with a Third Partyrefuted.org.uk/2014/02/28/withdrawconsent/ Or not give consent #DoNotSign
Response by @Red_Rescue: “I suspect their reaction to such trickery would be – right you daily signing time in punishment for being a cunning trickster.

Work Programme: You can still withdraw consent to share personal data with a Third Party

Updated: 05 Mar 2014

Work Programme: You can still withdraw consent to share personal data with a Third Party

“However, whilst on the Work Programme, participants may withdraw consent that they have given where it concerns their provider sharing data with a third party.

Where participants have given their consent for the Work Programme provider to share their data with a third party, they may withdraw this consent at any time”
Source: DWP Central FoI Team  – 28 February 2014 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/196833/response/488249/attach/html/3/WDTK%20Response%20735%20Smith.pdf.html

Or do not give consent in the first place!

“For consent to be fully informed and freely given you need to tell the customer exactly why you need the information, what you are going to do with it and whom you might share it with. We cannot put any conditions on a customer to try and persuade them to consent.Source: DWP Jobcentre  policy on Consent

Work Programme: Consent to contact employers, yet more DWP clarification

Use this letter: Cash for Consent: Letter to stop employers sharing your Personal Data with DWP or Work Programme Providers – http://refuted.org.uk/2013/12/29/cashforconsent/ to stop your past or present employer giving your employee Personal Data including “wage details” to the DWP or Work Programme Providers for Outcome or Sustainment payments.

“Summary and Action
3. You are free to go directly to an employer to establish wage details in respect of Outcome or Sustainment payments without the claimants consent for legacy JSA and ESA claimants.
4. You are also free to share any information that you obtain with DWP for legacy JSA and ESA claimants.
5. You are not free however to cont act employers for claimants who are receiving either contributory based JSA or contributory based ESA for
Universal Credit Claimants. (Sometimes referred to as “new style JSA/ESA”).
6. For these Claimant groups it is still necessary to obtain consent to contact an employer.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wp139-provider-memo-claimant-consent-before-contacting-an-employer

Cash for Consent: Letter to stop employers sharing your Personal Data with DWP or Work Programme Providers

Below is a draft letter to ensure employers do not share your Personal Data with the DWP or it’s Providers for Work Programme payments. Background info: http://refuted.org.uk/2013/12/29/important/

Remember: No powers exist that requires any employers to disclose employee Personal Data to the DWP or it’s Providers for the purposes of Work Programme (WP) Outcome or Sustainment payments.

Dear Employer,

RE: My Data Protection Act (1998) consent to share my Personal Data

I am writing to advise that I do not or no longer consent/give permission for you as my employer, under my Data Protection Act (1998) rights, to confirm or deny I am employed by you or to share my employee Personal Data including but not exclusively my Job Title, Hours of Work, Works Number, Wages etc, with any Third Party.

If anyone whatsoever should contact you for my Personal Data please request them to write to me  at my home address, permission for you to share my home address is not given.

Please note any Third Party includes The Department for Work and Pensions/Jobcentre Plus or any of it’s Providers such as [Name of Provider/Subcontractor].

If anyone supplies you with a form signed by me giving consent to share the aforementioned employee Personal Data, I confirm this is no longer valid and I do not agree to anyone mentioned on the form to be given my employee Personal Data.

Exceptions to above are given for HMRC for income tax and national insurance purposes.

Beside HMRC, if you do supply any of my Personal Data to any Third Party, please supply me with a copy of my Personal Data shared and a copy of the Third Parties written request.

Please confirm in writing that you received and will be acting upon the instructions set out in this letter to ensure your compliance with my Data Protection Act (1998) rights.

—-

Comment: Further research needed on how this relates to Universal Credit, particularly in-work conditionality.

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)

Why your consent is very important: DWP, Employers and Work Programme Providers

Understanding Welfare Rights can at times seem very frustrating and confusing. But do remember the frontier of rights is ever shifting.

Consent is very important

The website consent.me.uk was set up on 21 December 2011, as a way of securing people’s rights of consent to how their Personal Data is obtained, processed and shared, under the Data Protection Act requirement to obtain explicit consent from participants conscripted onto the DWP’s flagship Work Programme.

As a mark of consent.me.uk’s success after 25 months since the June 2011 launch of the WP and complaints from it’s Providers unable to secure outcome payments [cash], as people either withheld or withdrew their Personal Data sharing consent, the DWP and ConDem coalition has sought to subvert the long standing principle of consent by issuing a Designation Order. All highlighted in the WP Memo 134:

WP134 Provider Memo – Claimant consent   17 October 2013   Guidance
This issue arises from employers and Work Programme providers being prevented from claiming job outcomes [cash] by individuals removing or not giving consent for their employment in formation to be shared with DWP.
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wp134-provider-memo-claimant-consent

Q: Can I still regain control over my consent?
A: Yes

Whilst the DWP and it’s WP Providers have been given new powers to contact employers to track WP participants so they can obtain or validate payment claims. There is no obligation for employers to give either the DWP or it’s Providers employee Personal Data.

There is no legal obligation on employers to provide [employee] information [to DWP or it’s Providers] and they can not be sanctioned for failing to do so.[emphasis added]
From: ‘Consent Flag’ – DWP Central FoI Team – 29 October 2013 – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/180780/response/444351/attach/html/3/FOI%204864.pdf.html

Q: What should I do then?
A: Do not give employer/employment details to the DWP/Jobcentre or it’s Providers and or Write to you employer saying something along the lines of:

Dear Employer,

RE: My Data Protection Act (1998) consent to share my Personal Data

I am writing to advise that I do not or no longer consent/give permission for you as my employer, under my Data Protection Act (1998) rights, to confirm or deny I am employed by you or to share my employee Personal Data including but not exclusively my Job Title, Hours of Work, Works Number, Wages etc, with any Third Party.

If anyone whatsoever should contact you for my Personal Data please request them to write to me  at my home address, permission for you to share my home address is not given.

Please note any Third Party includes The Department for Work and Pensions/Jobcentre Plus or any of it’s Providers such as [Name of Provider/Subcontractor].

If anyone supplies you with a form a signed giving consent to share the aforementioned employee person data, I confirm this is no longer valid.

Exceptions to above are given for HMRC for income tax and national insurance purposes.

Beside HMRC, if you do supply any of my Personal Data to any Third Party, please supply me with a copy of my Personal Data share and a copy of the Third Parties written request.

Please confirm in writing that you received and will be acting upon the instructions set out in this letter to ensure your compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998)

—-

Comment: Further research needed on how this relates to Universal Credit, particularly in-work conditionality.

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)