People seeking work are being made to search for jobs for 35 hours a week—on pain of losing their benefits.
With 2.5 million unemployed this is more of a cruel and unfair punishment than a help finding work.
It has been mandatory for people to use this time to trawl through a website called Universal Jobmatch to look for job listings since the start of March.
The DWP launched the site last year and claimed it would make it easier for people to find work.
Yet users have found that, instead of offering legitimate job offers, the site is riddled with scams, spam and joke adverts.
An example of this is one job placement for an MI6 agent.
The job requirement was stated as “removing people”.
It also said that successful candidates would be given “special watches, jet-packs and mini submarines”.
Over 6,000 adverts had to be taken down in the first month of the website’s launch.
It has also been beset by glitches that make it frustrating and unusable.
Yet if people looking for work don’t use Universal Jobmatch for the mandated number of hours a week, they face sanctions to their benefits.
Sanctions can mean money is stopped from anything from six months to three years.
The results are devastating.
Sanctions are one reason why the use of food banks rose sharply in the last year.
People can be forced into poverty and often homelessness.
Jobcentre bosses look at claimants’ accounts on the website and decide whether or not they have adequately searched for jobs.
What they do not tell people looking for work is that it is not compulsory to give the Jobcentre access to their account details.
People have the right to refuse access to the account and the right to refuse to reveal how or whether they use Universal Jobmatch.