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

What is the difference for benefit claimants between a sanction, a disallowance and a suspension of benefits?

At times it is easy to get confused about what a Benefit Sanction is compared to a Disallowance of Benefits or  Supsension of Benefits. Today the DWP responded to an FOI request thus:

What is the difference for benefit claimants between a sanction, a disallowance and a suspension of benefits?

How does each of these actions affect entitlement to Housing Benefit on grounds of low or nil income?

Sanction: This has the effect of either reducing benefit or terminating entitlement to benefit consequent on a claimant taking or failing to take action contrary to commitments entered into both when claiming a relevant benefit and as amended during the award: eg. not applying for work, or refusing to attend a training course when in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Disallowance: This applies where a claim for benefit does not meet the conditions of entitlement for the benefit claimed – the claim is disallowed. Benefit is never put into payment. (This is a term that is sometimes used when entitlement ends after it has been awarded – we will sometimes say that the claim has been disallowed because a change in the claimant’s circumstances means there is no longer any entitlement to the benefit in payment. It has the same meaning as entitlement terminating in this context).

Suspension: This applies is where payment of benefit is stopped, in part or in full, because there is a  doubt about the correctness of the award in payment or a doubt about the actual entitlement to the benefit eg the department receives information about unreported income. Whilst investigating the accuracy of the report payment is suspended to prevent any possible overpayment.

The effect of JSA or ESA sanctions on Housing Benefit depends on whether the sanction means that entitlement to JSA or ESA ceases.

Where income-based JSA or income-related ESA is sanctioned, Housing Benefit would be unaffected, so long as entitlement to the sanctioned benefit remains.

Where a sanction results in cessation of entitlement to JSA or ESA, Housing Benefit would need to be reassessed to take into account the fact that there is no entitlement to JSA or ESA: entitlement to Housing Benefit might then continue on low income grounds.

Where a benefit is suspended Housing Benefit can continue unaffected, although Local Authorities can suspend Housing Benefit if they have a doubt about the correctness of the award in payment or a doubt about the actual entitlement to Housing Benefit. ”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dwp_terminology#incoming-620106

The background to this request is from: “We’ll “disallow” your housing benefit for two weeks when you’re sanctioned” http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/02/well-disallow-your-housing-benefit-for-two-weeks-when-youre-sanctioned-wtf-is-going-on-here/ another FOI request seeks associated clarification https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sanctioning_housing_benefit#incoming-619192.

DWP forced to confirm if it holds info on exploitation of workfare conscripts

“The Commissioner requires the public authority to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation: Confirm or deny whether the requested information is held.” https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/decisionnotices/2014/fs_50517872.pdf

About an FOI request: Groundworks and work programme placements https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/groundworks_and_work_programme_p#outgoing-284978

28 April 2014 benefit changes: Lone Parent Conditionality, Workfare, Jobsearch, Sanctions & more

“…high-level overview of changes that are being introduced from 28 April 2014”

  • Quarterly Work Search Interviews
    (20 minute Quarterly Work Search Interview every 13 weeks)
  • English Language Requirement (in England only)
    (This will affect all new JSA claimants…It applies equally to UK nationals, European Economic Area (EEA) and non EEA nationals)
  • Increasing Lone Parent Conditionality
  • Day One Conditionality
    “Prior to their Initial Work Search Interview, they will be requested [can be mandated following at an interview, if “appropriate“] to:

    • set up an email address
    • prepare a suitable CV
    • register on Universal Jobmatch”
  • Weekly Work Search Reviews
    (It will apply to 50% of all pre-Work Programme JSA)
  • Help to Work Package: Every person who remains on JSA following completion of the Work Programme will be provided with rigorous support tailored to their needs
    Help to Work offers three intensive support options for Work Programme completers. Work Coaches in Jobcentres will work with claimants to understand their needs, and refer them to one of the following:

    • Mandatory Intervention Regime where Coaches have more time to spend with
      claimants
    • Daily Work Search Reviews
    • Community Work Placements
      (Community Work Placements, where claimants undertake work placements of community benefit for up to six months alongside provider-led jobsearch)

    Discuss at:http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/benefit/9220-important-read-this#38491