More thoughts on Jobmatch

As a general rule, I try to avoid writing too much about my own personal experiences, but since they’re directly relevant to the issue of Jobmatch, I’ll make an exception here. As many people who read my last post on Jobmatch will probably have guessed, I am currently unemployed myself, and under pressure from my jobcentre to sign up to Jobmatch. When I refused to register at first, I was told to look at the site and then come back in a week for a special appointment, not connected to my normal signing on at all, just for the purpose of trying to pressure me into registering. I didn’t think it’d be helpful to say that I was worried about the jobcentre spying on me or that I just generally wanted to resist the government’s welfare reforms, so I said that I was reluctant to sign up because of security issues – I’d advise any other claimants in the same position to point out the fake advert for a hitman that was posted to the site last week, as proof of how weak the new system’s security is.
Anyway, I was advised that if I continue to refuse to sign up then I will eventually be officially directed to start using the site, and sanctioned if I don’t. However, they also promise that there will be some new guidance about security released in the next few weeks, so I was able to get them agree not to officially require me to sign up until the new guidelines are released. I’d advise anyone else in the same situation to take the same approach and just say you’re worried about the security of your information, as this seems to at least buy a few weeks.
This all raises a few questions for claimants who want to resist Jobmatch. Where possible, we definitely want to encourage people to avoid signing up altogether, but it’s also important to realise the limitations to this tactic, as sooner or later, and probably sooner, any claimants refusing to register will be threatened with sanctions. This means it’s hard to say how far we should stress not signing up and how far we should just accept that people will inevitably be forced to register, and concentrate our efforts on making sure they don’t give the jobcentre access to their information when they do. These are the kinds of questions that can’t be answered in isolation, but can only be worked out collectively by claimants resisting the scheme together.
Consent.me.uk suggest that people who’ve signed up can then revoke their consent, but this leaves a number of things unclear – firstly, whether the option to revoke your consent actually works, since it seems to just consist of emailing an address that doesn’t work, secondly, whether it’s possible to just withdraw consent to your advisor being able to see your account without getting rid of your account altogether, and thirdly whether people will be sanctioned for doing this.
If it is possible for people who’ve signed up and let the DWP access their accounts to then retrospectively shut them out, then this is potentially a hugely important tactic – telling people not to register is a bit time-limited, since it’s likely that, within a few weeks, the DWP will have bullied most claimants into signing up, whereas revoking consent can be done at any time – if it works.
The terrifying sanctions that Jobcentre staff are now being encouraged to use against claimants makes resistance a complicated and tricky affair. If Jobmatch goes through, it’ll lead to more people getting their benefits cut off, and so we want to stop it now, but our only weapon against it is to encourage claimants to not do what the jobcentre wants them to, which puts them at risk of sanctions. If we cause anyone to get their benefits cut off in the name of people not getting their benefits cut off, it’ll be a bit of a disastrous own goal.
A final note: while writing this article, I thought it’d be a good idea to sign up to jobmatch with a fake account, not directly linked to my claim, to see what the signing up process was like and to test whether you can make any changes to your account after you’ve signed up. It appears to be utterly impossible: it told me that I first needed to create a Government Gateway account, and then link it to Jobmatch, but after setting my account up and verifying it, it told me that I couldn’t log in with it, because it still needs to be verified, and also that I couldn’t register for a new one, because I was already signed in. I can see my Government Gateway account details, but not any way to link them to Jobmatch. It’s entirely possible that this self-sabotaging system will collapse anyway, not because of claimant resistance, but just because it’s actually impossible to use.

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About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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