Monday, 17 March 2014

Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Job Match fiasco


Yet another one of Iain Duncan Smith's flagship welfare "reforms" is in chaos. We already know that Universal Credit is turning into an expensive, criminally mismanaged farce; we know that the WCA assessment regime is cruel and discriminatory, and so unpopular that the company that administers it (the French corporate outsourcing firm Atos) would apparently rather quit than continue raking in millions by incorrectly declaring disabled and seriously ill people "fit-for-work"; we know that his Soviet style forced labour schemes are as economically illiterate as they are illiberal; we know that "Bedroom Tax" was launched in such a cack-handed way that it ended up driving one poor woman to suicide, even though she wasn't even liable to pay it; and we know that the Work Programme has been a fraud riddled and hugely expensive failure.


The latest aspect of Iain Duncan Smith's welfare system to come under concentrated criticism is the dogs-dinner of a website for jobseekers, called Universal Jobmatch.

It turns out that something like half of all the jobs listed on there are fakes, frauds, phishing scams or duplicates, which is a problem caused by the fact that the DWP specified that Monster build them a website without proper identity checks for recruiters. The site is so badly designed that in 2013 it won an award for being the worst recruitment website, which is quite an achievement for a site that cost £17 million to build and £6 million per year to administer.

Probably the worst thing about Universal Jobmatch is that Jobcentre staff have been given the power to force Jobseekers to use this catastrophe of a website under threat of absolute destitution via benefits sanctions.

Here's what recruitment industry veteran Stephen O'Donnell had to say about the practice of forcing the unemployed into using the Universal Jobmatch website:
"I think it's criminally unfair to sanction jobseekers for not using such a clumsily built website, rife with spammers, identity thieves and anonymous job ads."
O'Donnell was also keen to point out that Monster (the private company that has raked in £millions of pounds for building and running the site) are not so much to blame for the failure of the website, as the true culprit; the DWP, and ultimately their boss Iain Duncan Smith.

Now it turns out (via leaked documents) that the DWP are fully aware of how terrible the Universal Jobmatch site is, and that they have drawn up secret plans to scrap it in 2016. The appalling thing about this decision is that it shows that they intend to continue forcing unemployed people to use a hopelessly flawed system for the next two years, simply because they don't want to suffer the PR disaster of shutting it down early and having to compensate Monster for breach of contract.

Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP are responsible for the disgracefully poor design of the site, and they are quite happy to abuse the unemployed by forcing them to continue using their hopelessly botched and fraud riddled website for the next two years.

We know that Iain Duncan Smith only has two reactions to cock-ups, he either denies reality by claiming that the cock-up is actually a success, or he blames someone else. In my view it is beyond doubt that Iain Duncan Smith is an extremely limited individual (and a sufferer of some kind of narcissistic personality disorder) who has been promoted way beyond his capabilities. It is a disturbing sign of the shocking contempt that David Cameron and the Tories have for the poor, the disabled and the unemployed that they continue to allow this walking disaster zone to rule over the lives of many of the most vulnerable people in society.

With such an appalling track record of cock ups, of which Universal Jobmatch is just the latest in a long succession, David Cameron has every justification for sacking Iain Duncan Smith, should he actually want to.

Given Cameron's statement that "people have to take responsibility for the actions and show how they're going to be accountable for these actions. It’s very important that goes all the way to the top of the organization", when he was trying to force the resignation of Barclays CEO Bob Diamond, it is a clear demonstration of rank hypocrisy that Cameron hasn't got rid of Iain Duncan Smith, or even fallen on his own sword given the appalling scale of poverty, misery and death that Iain Duncan Smith's catastrophically mismanaged DWP have been inflicting on people for the last four years.

The fact that Iain Duncan Smith is still in his job after all of his blunders, and the fact that the Tories are determined to carry on forcing the unemployed to use their catastrophe of a website for the next two years are yet more demonstrations of the absolute contempt with which the Tory party regard "the lower orders".



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