Can DWP providers force you to use Universal Jobmatch clones like and

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

“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]
“Work Programme participants are not mandated to use 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 DWP remains the data controller…” [owner]
From: DWP Central FoI Team  – 24 October 2011


If asked to register and use, by DWP providers, websites like 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.



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“.


Briefing on latest JSA/ESA benefit sanctions statistics – ‘3 million+ get average of 2.04 sanctions each’

Download full briefing [.docx] – view online.

Key points are:

  • The total number of JSA sanctions has started to fall back due to the continuing fall in claimant unemployment
  • As a proportion of claimants, JSA sanctions have stabilised at the unprecedently high levels of 7% before reconsiderations and appeals, and 6% after
  • ESA sanctions have continued their rapid rise, both in numbers and as a proportion of claimants
  • The DWP has still not published any statistics on Mandatory Reconsiderations, introduced on 28 October 2013. However, Mandatory Reconsideration appears to have caused an almost total collapse in appeals to Tribunals. Only 23 JSA or ESA sanction Tribunal appeal decisions are recorded for all of April-June 2014, compared with a usual figure of at least 1,000 per month
  • Non-reporting of Mandatory Reconsiderations has had the incidental effect of revealing lengthy delays in the former reconsideration system. Over 25,000 claimants receiving reconsideration decisions in May and June 2014 had waited at least 6 months.
  • Not ‘actively seeking work’ remains the most common reason for sanction, followed by failure to participate in a training/employment scheme and missing an interview. The only reason to have increased is voluntarily leaving a job or losing it through misconduct. This always occurs during an economic recovery. Increased job mobility is simply a return to normal labour market behaviour.
  • The Work Programme continues to deliver more sanctions than job outcomes.


By Dr David Webster
Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Urban Studies
School of Social and Political Sciences
University of Glasgow


DWP Hardship Payment forms/guidance: JSA/ESA and Universal Credit (recoverable loan)

DWP FOI disclosure of forms and guidance: FOI request 7 August 2014, disclosures 5 September 2014.

Download hardship application forms
JSA/ESA  (pdf) – view pdf online (html)
Universal Credit (pdf) – view pdf online (html)

Leaflet: What is a [JSA] hardship payment? Download pdf – view pdf online (html) – source
DWP JSA Hardship Award Guidance Queries and Help: Download (pdf) – view pdf online (html)
Decision Makers Guide:Chapter 35 – Hardship  – Download (pdf) – view pdf online – source

Benefit Sanction Appeal Tips (JSA & ESA)

If you use assistive technology and need a version of any DWP document above in a more accessible format, please email Please tell them what format you need. It will help to you say what assistive technology you use.




29 page briefing on DWP JSA and ESA sanctions stats of 13 Aug 14

Download original (.docx) – View online

Briefing extracts:It was always likely that the Coalition’s intensification of JSA and ESA sanctions would lead to fatalities
Up to 31 March 2014 there had been 280,140 JSA Work Programme job outcomes and 503,220 JSA Work Programme sanctions
The annual number of JSA/ESA sanctions has almost doubled under the Coalitionvia @boycottworkfare

Petition: Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother

Briefing by Dr David Webster Honorary Senior Research Fellow Urban Studies School of Social and Political Sciences University of Glasgow Email:

Copies of 17 submissions to JSA sanctions review

Act Now For Autism
Broadway and St Mungo’s
Citizens Advice Scotland
Child Poverty Action Group
Community Links
Dr David Webster, University of Glasgow
Drugscope and Homeless Link
Glasgow Advice Service
National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)
Norfolk Community Law Service
Nottingham CVS
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
Single Parent Action Network
Unemployed Net

YMCA utter nonsense on JSA Hardship Payments and benefit sanctions

A hardship payment in Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance is not subject to repayment. The Universal Credit guidance about Recoverable Hardship Payments and Resources is in the  Advice for Decision Making guidance, chapter L1
From: DWP Central FoI Team – 11 July 2013

The YMCA are one of the greatest apologists for workfare and can’t even properly advise young people of their benefit sanctions rights. It’s young people’s sanctions guide goes as far as telling young people that if they are made destitute by JSA sanctions that they have to pay back means tested Hardship Payments. This is utter nonsense.

Remember, any [JSA] Hardship Payment you get will need to be repaid after your sanction ends. They will normally be paid by reducing your benefit payments when they start again.
[This is utter nonsense.]

From: YMCA England, Young Peoples Sanctions Toolkit – 05/11/2013

No one has to pay back a JSA or ESA Hardship Payments by having reduced benefits once a sanction ceases, that would mean Hardship Payments would be treated as a loan/debt to be recovered through benefits, which for young people would just be a sanction of lesser benefits by another name. YMCA Providing such misleading information further bullies young people to undertake Jobcentre Back to Work schemes.

View of a copy of the JSA/ESA Hardship Payment claim form, internal DWP guidance and details on how to challenge any Jobcentre sanction decision. If you object to YMCA as a religion based provider of Back to Work schemes, you can request the Jobcentre to include a restriction on your Jobseekers Agreement.

At present [30/11/13] nothing on the JSA/ESA Hardship Payment Claim form or DWP guidance that indicates payment is recoverable.

Universal Credit (UC) Hardship Payment is recoverable?

For UC a recoverability regulation for Hardship Payments does exist.

The Universal Credit Regulations 2013
Part 8, Chapter 3, Recoverability of hardship payments, Regulation 119

Universal Credit: DWP decision makers guide: Hardship Payments
“What are recoverable hardship payments”?

Rolling online picket of YMCA England

The Vile Hypocrisy of Workfare Exploiters the YMCA

YMCA Attempt Workfare Whitewash – Who Benefits From This New Charity Campaign?

The Side Of Workfare That The YMCA Don’t Want You To See

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