POLITICS

Iain Duncan Smith Faces Probe Over 'Bogus' Jobs On Jobseekers Website

06/03/2014 07:17 GMT | Updated 06/03/2014 10:59 GMT
Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03: Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions takes applause after giving his his speech to delegates at the Conservative Party Conference on October,3 2011 in Manchester, England. Chancellor George Osborne will today announce his plans at the party conference to extend a council tax freeze in England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Image)

Iain Duncan Smith's Department of Work and Pensions could be investigated after it emerged that over a third of a million jobs it advertises for job hunters could be bogus or unlawful.

Labour MP Frank Field has asked the National Audit Office to launch a probe into the scale of job fraud on the DWP's Universal Jobmatch site, which all jobseeker's allowance claimants are forced to use to look for work and must apply for a minimum number of jobs each week.

The DWP admitted to Field that 179 employer accounts advertising 352,569 jobs may potentially be in breach of the website's Terms and Conditions. Ministers were recently embarrassed by a a £10-per-hour prostitute job advert popping up in error on the Direct Gov website.

Teresa Pearce, Labour member of Parliament's work and pensions committee, told HuffPostUK: "Jobs are posted on Universal Jobmatch by "employers" but a large number, specifically in sales, are commission only door-to-door catalogue sales - not proper jobs at all. Also, there are some "self-employed" jobs which are clearly bogus employment.

"The worst thing is that if a jobseeker failed to take one of these "jobs" they could have their benefit stopped. Universal Jobmatch is a deeply flawed tool which delivers for neither job seeker nor possible employer."

Field said: “The heart of the government’s welfare reform programme is bedevilled with fraud and, in its current state, it is out of control. Anyone can place an advertisement on the site in the space of five minutes by ticking a few boxes.

"Ministers need to get a grip before more people fall victim to fraudsters preying on them with the helping hand of a major government department.”

The DWP was forced to investigate allegations earlier in February that a Coventry recruiter posted 11,000 fake jobs on the government website, which has itself won an award for being the "worst online recruitment site".

Employment minister Esther McVey admitted in February that the department does not collect data on where the jobseekers who use Universal Jobmatch end up or how many complaints are lodged about the system.

She told MPs: "Universal Jobmatch is part of the Government's plan for providing easy online access to Government services for all and is one of the services we use to help claimants back into work.

"We are unable to produce data for the number of claimants referred to Universal Jobmatch, who have entered employment. However, we know that the majority of JSA claimants are now registered on Universal Jobmatch with an account and are applying for jobs using the service."

A DWP spokesman said bogus adverts were common to all on-line job sites, adding: “The truth is that the vast majority of employers post genuine jobs, and we crack down on those who don’t play by the rules. We also regularly monitor the site and remove jobs that don’t meet our rules, such as duplicate advertisements or jobs for franchises."