The experiences of one jobseeker in using Universal Jobmatch – a worrying sign for Universal Credit?

I recently wrote an article for The Guardian exploring some of the ramifications of Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to make the Universal Credit system online-only.  As I have demonstrated here many times, there remains a very real digital divide for many millions of people; a divide not simply in terms of a lack of access, but also in a lack of skills to make full use of the technology. Unsurprisingly, many of those of working age caught on the wrong side of the divide tend to be the poorest in our society.  As a result, the intention to push the social security system online led to some very serious concerns, which in turn led to my article for The Guardian.

Since writing that article, I have spoken to a number of jobseekers who have personally experienced this drive to force them to use government web portals in order to seek out employment.  Their experiences are worrying and underline the fears raised by so many about the impact of forcing jobseekers online.  So I thought, rather than just repeat my concerns borne out of my understanding of the impact of this system, I should just ask one of them if they would be willing to write about their experiences for this blog.  They agreed. The following underlines, in my view, that neither Universal Jobmatch, nor the Universal Credit System, is fit for purpose.  The government needs an urgent rethink of its policies towards jobseekers because the danger is that government policy will trap them in poverty, not help them back into employment.  I only hope that the Opposition wake-up and challenge the poverty trap being created by the Coalition.

Anyway, here is one jobseeker’s experience of the new systems introduced by the coalition government…

Do you want to know how easy it is to become unemployed, and fall into that delightful category so beloved of this government of “skiver”, and be tagged with all the implications of laziness and fecklessness that it implies? It’s simple: all it takes is for your employer to make some bad business decisions, and there you go – you and everyone you work with can become instantly unemployed. In my case, this was done within 2 days, and we were all out the (securely locked behind us, hope you carried out everything you needed already) door, with the joyous additional factor of being given no notice or redundancy pay. What do you mean, you have financial commitments dependent on that pay packet you were expecting this month? Well: tough luck, you’re a Skiver now. A New Skiver.

Trying to struggle through the numbing shock in order to leap into action to fill out endless forms and kick off various processes was horrendous, but the good thing is that I’m pretty well educated, and I have the skills that mean that although the whole experience has been traumatic, I’m fairly confident that I’ve given the right information to the right people, at the right time, and I have the skills to find the right places to look and apply for jobs.

Now, I registered as a Jobseeker using my laptop, and my home internet connection, and I printed out confirmation materials and other documents that I needed using my own printer/scanner. I was lucky: I could do this comfortably at home, but it was a demanding process in many ways, asking me for information I either had to dig out of my household file folders, or that I had to log on to other sites to get, like the details of my bank savings and current accounts. It’s not something I would have wanted to do with strangers around, or in a public space. But what are your options, when you aren’t lucky enough to have these facilities at home? You go to a library, and make use of the facilities there…if you have a library…and if they have public computers…and if you can get time on them…and if you can input the information needed within that time…and if you have the computer skills to be able to understand what’s being asked of you by the forms, and how to respond appropriately. That’s a lot of elements that need to come together, in order for you to be able to get online.

What about the people who don’t have computer skills?

There is a current assumption in government that absolutely everyone has a computer, an internet connection, and the skills to use these together to gain access to information. This year, Universal Credit will replace various benefits, and there’s an expectation that recipients will manage their information online. But from my experience of government websites, it’s just going to be a horrible, painful mess, and the people who’ll suffer are the ones who’re least able to cope: those without internet access, and those without computer skills. Like the man I overheard while in the Job Centre, telling his advisor that he can only get internet access at his girlfriend’s house. What happens if that relationship breaks down? What about the people who don’t have computer skills?

As for the government websites that are meant to be getting people into employment…oh my!  Universal Jobmatch is the official government website for Jobseekers. It’s useless. Utterly, utterly useless. To start with, you have to be able to log in. As I’m writing this, it’s spent 25 minutes NOT logging me in, and I’ve had to give up and leave it. Ok, that’s not a huge problem for me, sitting at home, but what if you’re using a computer that you only have limited time on? That’s 25 minutes that could have been put to better use, but instead has been wasted waiting for a clunky website to decide to let you log in.

…jobs are still advertised long after their closing date…

The biggest problems that I’ve found with the jobs being advertised on Universal Jobmatch is that jobs are still advertised (and the system is allowing you to use it to apply for them) long after their closing date, and the fact that the system is inviting Jobseekers to apply for jobs in an utterly inappropriate manner. For example, I found a relevant post, and did as it requested, and used the site to send the employers my CV. I heard nothing further, and when I checked the progress of the application a few days later, the job was marked mysteriously as “closed”. Soon after this, I found the same position newly advertised on the site of the employer, where it specifically stated that CVs would not be accepted, and their own application process must be completed. Universal Jobmatch was giving the completely wrong information, and if I hadn’t known to follow this up at the source, I’d have lost the chance to apply for that position.

The site also insists on sending me alerts for jobs that haven’t even a tenuous link with the categories I have marked as my interests (the suggestions of a telesales role or a care home assistant are my personal favourites, when I’m looking for information professional or social media work), yet when I log in to look at them, and it asks me why I’m not applying for them, there’s no option to say “because this is utterly irrelevant to my requirements, your system is awful”. I’m waiting to see how long it is before I get told off for not trying hard enough in their systems. It’s actually so bad that I refuse to use it if I don’t have to, but that’s because I have other, better job sites available to me to use. What about the people who’ve been told that they MUST use the site, and don’t have the skills to know where else to look, or how else to do things? The site is so bad it’s almost certainly losing people the chance of employment, rather than helping them to find it.

So, what’s the future for us New Skivers? Apparently, one where we’re fighting for space in a library, wedded to a computer, spending frustrating and pointless hours wrestling with the Universal Jobmatch site, wasting time trying to get into a site that we can use to apply for jobs that closed weeks ago, using a format that the potential employer won’t accept. That’s definitely going to help people move from Skivers to Strivers….right? And anyone who doesn’t think the Universal Credit and Universal Jobmatch are amazing must just be happy being a skiver, and they’re loving the decadent lifestyle that their £71.70 a week Jobseekers Allowance enables them to live on.


I have also been sent the following which I felt should be attached to the bottom of this post. It’s taken from a booklet called “Jobseekers Allowance: your responsibilities” and appears to be rather authoritarian in tone:


Note: you must tell us if you leave your home, even if only for a day.  Seems rather unnecessary to report on your whereabouts if out for the day…

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  • This entire exercise seem to be about forcing people out of their benefits, to save money so that they can use it for their own purposes, but the populace sadly seem unaware and buy the silly rethorics…

  • I wrote to the Government myself just over 18 months ago asking them to help my SON financially to help him get his business back after having it ripped from underneath us because Coventry Leasing Ltd repossessed our Company Van with a load of furniture that belonged to a client and didn’t send us repossession letters or letters of arrears’ My son has 2 Daughters to keep and hasn’t worked for over 18 month’s he’s been on JSA AND HAS NOTHING and is awfully depressed , More to the point the Government stopped Legal Aid and his ex stopped him seeing his children and he’s now having to pay money he hasn’t got to fight for his children ,the whole system stinks and its disgraceful a scam artist can get away with wrecking your life and putting you in a state of hardship.

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  • Karl

    I have just experienced all of the above mentioned by infoism, It is a complete joke. I have been trying to log in to universal jobmatch since 9.30am and still I cant. I filled out the skill test with lifelong learning on the government gateway and it suggests that I join the forces or take up a care in the community role. I am 50 years old next year and have worked all my life, the last 25 years as a door systems engineer. My occupation is not listed on there site so they jobmatch to the next best thing. If I am not interested in what they have suggested I have to explain why!! My new claim meeting is tomorrow so I shall print this article and give it to them as I introduce myself.

  • dave

    He’s moaning about how hard it is to use universal jobmatch yet has the ability to write and upload a web article.

    • JCplus

      Dave, you need to go back to school and learn to read AND understand properly!

      Hope you join us soon at JobCentrePlus, show how clever you are…..

  • Cleo

    I have tried to advertise a job vacancy today on Universal Jobmatch and it truly is a disaster. It takes too long to post a job vacancy and also does not allow you to post it correctly as it does not specify enough occupations. Then once I went through the outrageous process and successfully posted the job the DWP emailed me to outline that as I have asked for 2 yrs+ experience, this is discriminating against certain age groups and have asked for written assurance with further information or sign a declaration to remove this from my job posting???????

  • ShadowDrakz

    I have been told that UJ is only short term meaning that because I have just came out of a job they expect me to get another one easily. The job I just came out of is the 2nd job I have had, it was 6 months and the one before it was a few years ago and lasted 2 months. Both jobs where never going to be long term as it was just until the work ran out and the Job centre just don’t care, they see that I have worked and assume it to enough for me to easily find a job. They want to spend as little time as possible seeing you but have issue when you can’t find a job, they are supposed to help us find work but all they do is look at what we find ourselves, tell you to keep at it or try harder and that is it until the next appointment. And the staff at their offices are just as bad, the Job centre just sees us all as jobless wastes of space when many of us could probably do their jobs better than they do now.

  • Sam Dunbar

    Considering there suppose to be closing down the jobsite in 2016 lol

  • Kenny Chassar

    I was having an interview with my advisor recently and he was showing me the the merits of using UJ by typing in ‘no experience’ and then looking at what came up. The first job in this category was for a Technical Sales Manager at a rate of £50-£60 thousand a year and went on to list the qualifications and ‘experience’ needed for this job, and as I am looking in the £14-£16 thousand bracket and am certainly not sure what a Technical Sales Manager does, I said that I would not even consider applying for this job, to which he replied that I was being negitive, and then vindictvely announced that he would put me on to weekly signing for not having the right attitude along with several other veiled threats. The lesson being, be very wary about pulling these people up for their mistakes.

  • Blackhat

    Similar to yourself, I have extensive IT experience. Including 15 years at Board level. I would have resigned immediately had my team let through a system similar to this one. It doesn’t even permit a Covering Letter and as you say all the roles can be found else where and easier.
    Unlike others, I have been permitted to use a printed excel sheet as my Job Search evidence, for past two years. When Challenged (as happened 3/4 times) I ask them for the Primary or Secondary Legislation that states I must use it. I am now being told that as part of Universal Credit Legislation (due this year), it will become mandatory. I really hope not as transferring the 100+ jobs I apply for weekly will be very tedious.

    • Fiona Gregory

      If you learn to touch type it will be a doddle. You will have spare time to make a cuppa and watch Jezzer as well.

  • Fiona Gregory

    You would be ideal to help IDS with the Universal Credit then.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Me too. Man invented god in his own image, otherwise it would be a duck-billed platypuss or raccoon.

  • Fiona Gregory

    It is done by Japanese robots who can’t even read properly.

  • Fiona Gregory

    They do not train them properly, especially the girl with the pink hair who loves to start an argument where none is required.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Yes I know what you mean. I am 54 at the moment and it seems bosses just want the young ones because they are CHEAPER to employ.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Yes well that goes to show how very spiteful they can be. However, they are given targets to meet for sanctioning, and if they do not meet them, they do not get a teeny weeny bit of a pay rise.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Remember there are hundred of other sites, not just UJM. The Work Programme told me Indeed was a good one to use, but a quick Google search should inform you of others available.

  • Fiona Gregory

    They do not have the time to check your jobsearch properly. They only have about 7 mins for each customer otherwise they will not see everyone on the list.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Tell them to use Virgin Media internet. It is fast and only goes down about twice a year.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Tried that. It was of no use whatsoever.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Do not tick the box allowing them to look at your UJM. It clearly states in UJM handbook that it is up to the customer to give them the information about their job search as they see fit, and UJM will not change this. Someone printed it out on an early reply on this page.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Get a mobile with internet access, just use for important things. He did write a book, it was called The Trial.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Write down everything you do. If they do not believe you, all they have to do is Google the reference number and the job should come up. The onus is on them. You are innocent until proved guilty.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Go on Adzuna site and they will rate your CV for you, tell you how you can improve it and then tell you what pay you should get (which is vastly overestimated) but it is another string to your bow.

    They send out emails late at night of new vacancies you may care to apply for. It is useful but none of them are perfect. Use as many as you can.

  • Fiona Gregory

    Yes and they are all using Windows 98 or something very outdated.

  • Fiona Gregory

    I hate to inform you, but nowadays, even call centre jobs require a university degree. At least they do for posh John Lewis.

  • Fiona Gregory

    There might be 1.5 Million jobs in the whole UK but there are 3 million people looking for them. Bearing in mind, one cannot put a quart into a pint pot, this means that inevitably some people will be out of work.

    Also bear in mind that not everyone has a car or can drive, and some people have limited vision, although can still see, like me. Add to that, bosses hardly ever employ anyone over 50, and you will see that someone has got to pay for our daily bread. I cannot ask god because he does not exist, therefore I have to ask the DWP, until I retire at the old age of 67 – whereas before it was 60. Keep on moving the goal posts, and the will not have any goalkeepers left.

  • Lee Jordan

    Totally Agree, been redundant just over a week after being in employment for over 25 years. I’m looking for a job but don’t want to take just anything. Already feeling pressured to take any job and actually feeling more stressed than being at work. The day I first visited for my interview was pathetic, no one knew who I was supposed to see, I wasn’t on a list to see anyone. Then they guy who finally saw me just wanted me off his desk as quick as possible. After that I was told to attend a daily appointment to take part in a group session. Then after that for the next 3 weeks you have to come in daily to see another team. The first weeks meetings consist of first day filling in a form, two of the days were informative on how to do a CV and interview techniques, one day someone was supposed to come in and discuss job opportunities that they have but couldn’t be bothered to turn up although was still sitting in the main open plan office. The other 2 days they’re onto you to job seek for 35 hrs per week and if you don’t your 73 pounds per week will be stopped. I earned more than that per day in my last job. Does this mean they are making you work for £2 per hour? Surely that’s illegal and against human rights?? You have to sign up to a Universal Jobmatch so they can track your every move, this is mandatory. So I log everything I do on UJ so they can see what i’m doing. Today I was humiliated and made to feel like I am cheating the system when the Lady I have to see said “I will give you the benefit of the doubt” when looking at my job searches that I logged so they can see i’m doing them. Then she said in another sentence I will “let you off coming in for the next 2 days since you’ve been busy”. It made me feel like I was robbing the system and that I had BS’d my way out of coming in for a couple of days. I understand that there are some folks who play the system and that’s why they’re like they are, but they can see your history and know I’ve been in work for almost 3 decades. They should treat everyone individually instead of labeling everyone the same. I was so angry after I left but there’s no where to complain. I hope I get a job soon. I have considered signing off so I don’t have to go through the humiliation but will give it another week or two as I do have a couple of job prospects on the horizon.

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  • Philip Shaw

    The whole jobsearch nightmare is rubbish. I have so many restrictions on what I am compelled to do to find work that actually finding something suitable is impossible anyway. I only have to travel 45 minutes each way and am expected to look for jobs around 16 hours per week. These do not seem to exist on Universal Jobmatch. My last job was with my local Police. They started me at 22 1/2 hrs per week and thought I was having problems coping, so reduced my hours to 16 at which point I was awarded Tax Credits, to top up my salary. I explained this to my adviser at JobCentre Plus, after the job ended. She told me to apply for jobs around the same sort of hours and made a not on my claim. When I told an adviser that I could not find work to fit these hours, she told me to apply for full time jobs and ask if the employer would consider part time instead. What kind of advice is this?

  • Philip Shaw

    Pachter, I was called to my W|P Intervention, an insulting and derogatory term to say the least, and the first thing they asked me was “Do you have learning difficulities?”. They obviously hadn’t read my details or they would know that I have written and run quizzes in my local pub, worked for my local Talking Newspaper and Magazine group for 19 years, including much studio work and have been involved with Hospital Radio. Do I sound like I have learning difficulties to you? These people should be sacked, but they would probably be replaced with another lot who would be exactly the same. The whole WP set up is useless and depressing. Hardly anyone that I encountered got a job in the 2 years I was there – and I met at least one person who was there, not because she was unemployed, but because she was working, just enough hours. I thought WP was a scheme for unemployed peolple? Absolute rubbish and also you are surely better qualified to update your CV than they are. After all, it’s YOUR history. Good luck Pachter.

  • wayne belgrave

    just spent hours job hunting in UJ, out of thousands that my filter/search produced (filter was useless and did not work ) only 3 actually got acknowledged by the universal application history, the rest were web redirects to other websites that do not get acknowledged in the UJ system as a job application and thus does not show up in application history page on UJ. Many that went to another site asked me to e-mail for details to ask what area i am in and if there actually was vacancies so was not really an application for a job but was just an advertisement for the organization, these sites also had pop up malware/adware on it, 2 others were duplicates of same job that had expired and closed so should not have even been on UJ and was a waste of time. UJ these days rely on the honesty of us applying and submitting via other websites and for us copy / pasting from our personal emails the job details into our UJ search history in just 250 characters. i challenged my advisor about this and said to give me our local job centers / or his e-mail address so can at least cc and forward the email received from out of UJ system job applications as proof of application for jobs, his words where quote… “oh no we don’t want our emails bombarded and blocked up with e-mails keep on coming in”

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  • Joanne Hildred

    UC is the most backwards and demeaning manner to treat the unemployed. When I initially got put on UC I was underpaid by £70 per month. I asked the job centre why it was so low, their response was that’s what the government says I can live on and to write to my local MP if I’m unhappy (that seems to be their answer for everything). I did write to my local MP who took the issue up with the DWP. She got a reply saying it had been miscalculated. I received a payment with no apology or letter explaining why.
    I have now found a job but as it doesn’t start for a week I’ve been told I need to continue documenting 35 hours a week of job searching or I will be sanctioned. This is despite it being a waste of my time applying for jobs I don’t want, businesses time of looking at my application, as well as wasting the job centres time of having to book an appointment to check this. Their response was again, write to your local MP if you’re not happy. I’ve had money sent to closed accounts after telling them not to send money to that particular account, took them 4 months to transfer me to their NEA scheme as a result of an IT error. It would not surprise me if UC had depressed people beyond tablets and to the point of desperation.

  • Jonathan Gray

    The housing element for UC is hilarious. If you are under 35 you are only given an amount equal to the local authority allowance for shared housing. Apparently those under 35 are not ‘entitled’ to live by themselves. Of course if you do and become unemployed there is no acceptance of your actual reality, leaving you hundreds short for rent. It also results in people you know being able to pay their rent because they are 36, whilst you cannot because you are 30. Even though your circumstances are exactly the same. It’s an atrocious way to treat people. Combined with not received any money for five weeks and many are being driven into debt.

  • wayne belgrave

    Another wonderful experience with Universal is the adviser forcing you to apply for jobs that they save in your Universal account without even reading and paying attention to our individual circumstances or the jobs skill requirements, IE i was…… ” ADVISED” … apply for jobs the advisor saved, despite they needed skills that were not in my personal skill set, and of course if i did not apply for them….. ” I MAY LOSE BENEFIT”….

  • wayne belgrave

    So here we are start of 2017, new energy new determination to get work….new improvements to UJ? Naaaaaaah… same old same old, after wading through most of the available vacancies, one of the agency’s using UJ supposedly to help us unemployed find work namely- Class Quick, insist on posting vacancy’s giving location as UK Yorkshire-Yorkshire, …where in Yorkshire? IE; which part of Yorkshire, west, south, etc, not even named a town or city, the salary was stated as 1.00 to 50.000 per year, i mean 1 pound salary for a whole year… seriously..!? The incompetence did not stop there, in the main info window.. ..quote”& nbsp; opportunity & nbsp ; are  a smileisamust & nbsp; ” … WHAT does that meen & nbsp; ? It was not just one post by this agency either, all the postings by this agency were just as badly typed English and were totally unhelpful, confusing, and allowed to be posted on UJ, these sort of postings are to me a waste of time and post space and do not help us find work at all and only seem to be some kind of advertisement for the company or agency.
    Who is responsible for letting these posts getting posted? who is responsible for typing them in the first place ( i am no typesetter as you can probebly understand by my posts here, but i am fairly sure it can be understood what it is i am typing about ) i figure they should employ me, as i am sure i could do a much better job than the people whom type or allow this nonsensical post to be posted without being checked, if it is readable, and /or understandable.

  • 7Point7

    Oh but guess what … you can earn money by working and still remain on Universal Credit. They keep you on the system while you’re working, for up to 6 months maybe, and they kindly let you keep 35 pence for each pound you make. It’s truly magnanimous of the government and a great idea.

    What they fail to tell you is that they add in your “benefit”, which is now classed as an “earning”, into the total amount before they extract the 65 percent, and in all probability you’re actually coming out with less, after all expenditure, than if you were still doing the usual signing-on crap.

    So the term “benefit” is effectively forced down your throat whilst you’re not actively working, and then it strangely metamorphoses into “earnings” during periods of employment, when they’re able to divest you of those earnings.That’s extremely convenient for the chancellor. I wonder how many brain cells were taxed coming up with that idea around the cabinet table one afternoon over champagne and truffles.

    Didn’t someone in the government say relatively recently, while pushing the universal credit concept, “you’re better off working”? I also seem to recall someone saying, during the course of some dim distant historical event, “arbeit macht frei”. Which sounds amazingly similar when you consider how both of those concepts were realised in actuality.

  • wayne belgrave

    Should UJ be permited to advertise Army vacancies? i though the army had their own recruitment methods. there has been a lot of warehouse vacancy’s titled as warehouse but when you click for information the next page says it to be army recruitment not only that but the vacancies are age specific ( IE young ) so are a complete waste of time and post space to us more mature job seekers

  • iuy

    I registered job application in my job universal match account history activity list with my eyes opened. Next day the history record of previous day has gone. It kept happen for 3 times in one week recently which had never happened before. So if the jobcentre is not happy with you for some reason, your application history will get trouble and that can be explained you didn’t look for jobs by them. Be careful, they can treat you easily even they are just personal employees earning wages.

  • jayne hall

    the job centres universal jobsite is a load of rubbish firstly it wont let me login, i changed my username id password 5 times and tried 5 different eail addresses fianlly yesterday i logged in starting applying and leaving load of notes, went for a sandwich, came back, it had logged me out, so when i went to log back in it said i dont exist apparantly and back to square one i cannot login at all so ive been busy writing down all the jobs ive applied for as i have to go to the job centre every week so fed up and applying for 845 jibs, 30 interviews not offers, told im been moved from jsa to uc and i have to wait 6 weeks before i get any money how am i supposed to attend interviews with no money? they wont give me a free bus pass said i have to use the universal credit money yet i have to wait 6 week to get it! its madness plus they fording me to attend a back to work course, 2 days next week 2 the following says that counts towards my 35 hours of job searching i need to do each week total crap ive gone on other job sites, much better than u jmatch as least i can get on indeed total jobs etc ive tried lots of times to login again to ujmatch nope apparantly i dont exist

  • wayne belgrave

    so UJ is to close….? login on to UJ you will get this message “Universal Jobmatch will be replaced by the Find a job service on 14 May 2018.

    Important: If you have an existing Universal Jobmatch account it will not move to the new service.
    Save any information you want to keep, like your CV, cover letters and application history by 17 June 2018”.

    will this mean that things will improve for job seekers.. who knows? so far there is little to none information about it!
    To me it just seems like yet another example of DWP throwing money into something that will only benefit DWP giveing them even more leveridge to sanction people, one thing is definitely likely….this new find a job search service thing is likely to mean that we as unemployed will have to waste more of our time wading through thousands of jobs online wither we have a computer or not, revealing our private details to DWP, with little to no chance of getting a job anyway, and a larger likelihood of being sanctioned

  • Victoria Stewart

    Where does it say every day o claim and don’took on the weekend?