Jobcentre Minus

Perhaps it is a side-effect of dealing with people who don’t have jobs, but it seems that the Jobcentre is largely staffed by people who don’t do any work, as shown by a report showing that the Department of Work and Pensions is one of the worst for spending their time surfing the web.

From personal experience, I know that there are advisors who work hard and will go the extra mile for their ‘clients’. But, equally, I know that there are many in the Department, primarily those in management and other ‘behind the scenes’ roles, who really ought to be signing on at the Jobcentre, not drawing a wage for working there. Naturally, these are the ones who make many of the decisions that make a misery for jobseekers and bind the hands of advisors, yet it is the hardworking advisors who have to deal with irate jobseekers, not them – convenient!

My primary annoyance with the Department of Work and Pensions is the change to the Directgov/Jobcentre Plus website. Initially, it was not fit for purpose, with many jobs lacking contact details and many ‘apply’ links broken, and although that largely seems to have been remedied, it is not heartening to read in Private Eye that the site is not properly assessing jobs, leaving jobseekers at risk of identity theft and fraud through the placement of fake jobs on the system. Very reassuring!

Then, of course, there was the fact tha to apply for many jobs you had to be signed into the system – something that hadn’t been necessary in the past. Of course, this, in itself, isn’t a major problem as it is necessary to sign into other job sites to apply for jobs. Unfortunately, rather than a username or email address, or even national insurance number, to sign-in, it gave you a unique identifying number. Excellent! How exactly am I meant to remember a long string of random digits? Hardly user-friendly, especially for anyone who lacks a computer.

Naturally, after initially registering, I misplaced my number and password. Not a problem, just ask for assistance. Yeah, right! Remember how I told you that they are lazy? Well, that goes treble for those running the website as I’ve not heard back from them. Eventually, having been unable to apply for one job whilst waiting, I have up and looked to see what I could do. Well, you could create a new account with the same email address, so I did that. Except, despite saying that you could, it wouldn’t let me as “that email already has an account”. Oh, thanks. Fine, perhaps I could close the account and open a new one. Um, no, you need number and password for that. Great! Finally, I admitted defeat and opened a completely new account with a different email address.

All of that hassle might not be too bad if the site was optional, but, according to two different newspaper reports, it isn’t. Apparently, it is mandatory for jobseekers to use the site in order to retain their benefits. So, have we been informed of this fact? Well, I haven’t been. Not a word. After the first news report, I actually emailed the Department of Work and Pensions to get clarification (especially as, after the fiasco of trying to access my first account, I was a little worried as to how they would track access to the site – I didn’t want to have my meagre benefits stopped because someone was checking the account I couldn’t access!). So, naturally, a straightforward question elicited an immediate response? No, of course not! Not a word… (No surprise, really, as I requested a clarification from them on another issue around the middle of 2012 and still haven’t had a reply to that.)

I find it offensive that a jobseeker can be penalised for the slightest error or hint of laziness, yet the Department of Work and Pensions cannot be bothered to reply to simple queries, let alone resolve account issues! How I wish I had all their spare time – but, I, unfortunately, am too busy searching for a job…

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