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

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

DWP Providers, your Privacy and Personal Data

The DWP has now explicitly confirmed it does share your personal data with it’s Welfare to Work Providers and others. But do remember you can still complete Withhold or Withdraw Consent, preventing how Providers share your personal data. Plus more often than not there is no need to sign any Providers forms giving them permission to collect and share your data, under the #DoNotSign principle.

“To help people receive help and support through the government’s welfare reforms the department will share information for an increasing number of welfare services. The sorts of services that this refers to are diverse but include:

  • services to help people with particular difficulties such as the government’s Troubled Families Programme
  • schemes to help people into work or to obtain better skills and training to assist in obtaining work, for example through Get Britain Working initiatives
  • services that support people with independent living: this would include a range of services such as entitlement to a Blue Badge
  • services that provide domiciliary and respite care.”

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/privacy-policy/ (updated 23/12/13)

On Work Programme (WP)? Got/Getting a Job? Want to stop DWP/Jobcentre and or WP Provider harassment; getting paid?
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/23/providerharassment/

Withdraw consent from Work Programme Providers
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/12/withhold/

No need to sign Work Programme documents and no sanctions
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/11/05/sign/

On Work Programme (WP)? Got/Getting a Job? Want to stop DWP/Jobcentre and or WP Provider harassment; getting paid?

Last update: 11th Nov 2013

DWP does not make attempts to trace the employer and leaves 
this function up to the provider…Jobcentreplus does not contact or get data automatically from HMRC to see if an individual who has left the Work Programme is doing paid work.

(1) Consent to contact employers about employees
(2) Tips to prevent WP provider harassment [all contact] and payment
(3) WP participation ends when JSA ends
(4) Starting work?
(5) Housing and council Tax Benefits?
(6) Flexible Support Fund

(1) Consent to contact employers about employees

The Government has authorised through a Designation Order the removal of the legal requirement for DWP [Not it’s Welfare to Work Providers] to seek explicit consent from Welfare to Work conscripts (aka ‘participants’) for the DWP to contact employer(s) to track their hours of work; wages; job titles and more, under both Jobseekers Allowance and Universal Credit.[1]

“However, for those claimants on the new style ESA / JSA contributory benefits we are still progressing the necessary legal permissions. For these participants you will still need to explicitly gain consent to contact employers.”
From: Work Programme Memo134 – Clarification Regarding the Need for [DWP’s] Claimant Consent – 17 October 2013

This Order assumes the DWP or it’s Providers have details of an employer and there is no legal obligation for employers to provide the DWP with any 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 x

n

“Clarification that when completing form WP07b [Change of circumstances] to notify JCP that the participant has started work, full employer details should be supplied where known. [emphasis added]
From: Amendments to Work Programme Provider Guidance – 10 October 2013 https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/work-programme-memo-133.pdf

(2) Tips to prevent WP provider harassment and payment To prevent or frustrate this from happening [2], with regards the ending of a JSA claim,  the following is suggested:

  1. Do not inform the WP provider of any employment or self-employment
  2. Do not inform the Jobcentre of any employer(s) details
  3. Write to your employer asking stating that you do not under any circumstances give them permission to discuss or share information about your employment; hours of work; wages and job title with the Jobcentre, DWP or Work Programme provider (naming them e.g A4e), without your prior written approval.

“Sanctions can only be applied when a person is in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). If a claim has ended and JSA is no longer in payment, no sanction will be applied if a person declines to avail themselves of any additional support on offer or fails to respond to any further contact from a Work Programme provider.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/182356/response/444586/attach/html/3/5105%20Reply.pdf.html

From: DWP Central FoI Team – 29 October 2013
x
“There is no requirement to provide information [to the Jobcentre] about your employment when ending your [JSA] claim.”
From: DWP Central FoI Team

(3) WP participation ends when JSA ends Remember WP participation stops once a claim for Jobseekers Allowance ends, under Part 5.  (1) (2) (d) of the The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations 2013.

“Sanctions can only be applied when a person is in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). If a claim has ended and JSA is no longer in payment, no sanction will be applied if a person declines to avail themselves of any additional support on offer or fails to respond to any further contact from a Work Programme provider.” https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/182356/response/444586/attach/html/3/5105%20Reply.pdf.html From: DWP Central FoI Team – 29 October 2013

(4) Starting work?

When you do get a job you can just complete ‘Part 4 Declaration‘ of your ‘Signing on Booklet’ (ES40JP) and return the booklet to the Jobcentre.

(5) Housing and council Tax Benefits? When ending a JSA claim and starting a new job you may be entitled to extra Housing and Council Tax Benefits, for this extra help you should contact your Council directly and ask if you are eligible and how to claim.

(6) Flexible Support Fund You may be able to obtain discretionary support from the Jobcentre, when you start a new job,  from it’s Flexible Support Fund, this would require inform them of your employer details.

References

[1] Universal Credit includes in-work conditionality, currently being piloted by the DWP https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/in_work_jobcentre_pilots#outgoing-306946

[2] How this approach will work under Universal Credit is under investigation.

Background: Clarification Regarding the Need for Claimant Consent http://www.dwp.gov.uk/supplying-dwp/what-we-buy/welfare-to-work-services/provider-guidance/work-programme-provider-memos.shtml

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)

#DoNotSign Work Programme documents, a very good example of www.avantajobs.com

[updated 24 Oct 13]

Work Programme Provider Avanta has created a clone of Universal Jobmatch (UJ) called Avanta Jobs (AJ), unlike UJ, AJ does not appear to give the choice of not giving permission for anyone voluntarily using or mandated to use AJ of not allowing Avanta staff full or read only access to an account users activity and personal data. What is also not made clear is that all personal data entered onto AJ belongs to the DWP as the Data Controller.

“Work Programme participants are not mandated to use 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 www.avantajobs.com DWP remains the data controller…[owner]
(Emphasis added)
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/181920/response/443194/attach/html/3/5028%20Response.pdf.html
From: DWP Central FoI Team  – 24 October 2011

Q: If the Avanta Work Programme Customer Agreement form is not signed, does Avanta have any authority to mandate use, registration and uploading personal data to avantajobs.com?

A: A recent set of FOI disclosures of Avanta correspondence with the DWP* (see note below) clearly indicated the authority to view a AJ user’s account comes via the signing of it’s ‘Customer Agreement’ (CA) form, needless to say this suggests not signing the CA could make it impossible for Avanta to mandate:

1. Creating a AJ account
2. Uploading personal data, such as a CV onto AJ
3. Avanta having access to a user’s personal data on AJ

The authority [consent] for this [user account access by Avanta] comes from the signed Work Programme Customer Agreement form
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/180551/response/442313/attach/html/5/Attachment%202%204848.pdf.html
From: Avanta Dwp Communications, via DWP Freedom of Information – 22 October 2013

Debate and discuss at:
http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/chat-a-rap/7353-avanta-and-its-universal-jobmatch-doppelgaenger

Related FOI response:

Q: “Whilst on the Work Programme, Can I be mandated to sign any forms given by my provider, this includes, Action Plans and Monthly Review documents”?

A:there is no mandatory requirement for individuals to sign specific forms
From: DWP Central Freedom of Information Team – 26.03.13
http://refuted.org.uk/category/donotsign/

*Comment: All Work Programme Providers are subject to the Freedom of Information Act
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/19/yourinformation/

More on the #DoNotSign principle:
http://refuted.org.uk/category/donotsign/
Background information:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130329160436/http://www.donotsign.com/

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)

DWP Jobcentre and it’s Providers, your Personal Data and the Freedom of Information Act

1) Your Personal Data/Information
2) Personal Data/Information the DWP/Jobcentre holds about you
3) Official Information
4) DWP/Jobcentre Official Information held by Providers and  Subcontractors
(Including Freedom of Information Act obligations)
5) Making requests for Official Information
6) What do these Acts mean for me?
(Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act, Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and Environmental Information Regulations)
7) FAQs


1) Your Personal Data/Information

You are entitled to see information held about you. Find out how to manage your personal information including subject access requests, compensation and what you can expect from organisations.
http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information.aspx

Provider and Subcontractor obligations in this area are outlined in the DWP Framework Agreementfor the provision of employment related support services.

2) Personal Data/Information the DWP/Jobcentre holds about you
Download a copy of the DWP/Jobcentre Subject Access Request (SAR) form to obtain copies of the information they hold about you.

“As DWP is the data controller not the provider, providers do not hold any information about DWP participants in their own right. Any SAR requests for DWP participants should therefore be sent to DWP.
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/79898/response/216778/attach/html/2/FoI%20IR%20188%2010.10.11.pdf.html

“Providers receiving any SAR requests are required to notify DWP and provide us with [all] the personal data they hold to enable the Department to meet our  legal obligations.”
Source: DWP Central FoI Team

3) Official Information
You are entitled to request official information held by public authorities, including government departments, local authorities, hospitals, schools and police forces. Find out what you need to do.
http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/official_information.aspx

4) DWP/Jobcentre Official Information held by Providers and Subcontractors
(Including Freedom of Information Act obligations)
The DWP/Jobcentre has contracts with Providers and they with Subcontractors (contractors) to provide Welfare to Work Programmes, you can make requests via www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/dwp to obtain copies of Information Providers and Subcontractors hold, such as the Names of Mandatory Work providers and Work Programme induction information.

Provider and Subcontractor Freedom of Information Act obligations in this area are outlined on pages 36 and 37 of the DWP Framework Agreement for the provision of employment related support services.

5) Making requests for Official Information
Use the www.whatdotheyknow.com website to obtain Official Information under the Freedom of Information Act.

6) What do these Acts mean for me?
What are the Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act, Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and Environmental Information Regulations? What are the differences between them?
http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/the_acts.aspx

FAQs
Can’t find what you’re looking for? The ICO FAQs might help.
http://www.ico.gov.uk/Global/faqs.aspx