Recording your jobsearch when on Universal Credit

Discussion in 'benefits and housing' started by LeytonCatLady, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Evening everyone.

    Like lots of people, I have recently had the misfortune of becoming unemployed and needing to turn to the state for support - and I live in a UC area. The work coach has asked me a few times to record my jobsearch on my Universal Jobmatch account, which I am not happy to do as I have never allowed access. I quoted the regs at her which say claimants can record their jobsearch activity however they choose. Her favourite retort is "Well that was Jobseekers' Allowance, this is Universal Credit!"

    However, I've just found this link to what are specifically Universal Credit regulations, and nothing has changed! See clauses J3102 - J3107:

    They still can't force you to show them your UJM account without the Data Protection Act changing (which obviously it hasn't), but many coaches, like the one I see, will try and kid on that that's now the only acceptable way of recording what you have done to look for work. My coach has blatantly lied that "Everybody HAS to use UJM to show what they've done", despite me repeatedly reminding her that that wasn't true, and what's more, she knew I knew.

    But as these UC regs prove, they still accept any other methods - whether that's employer/employee correspondence; activity on UJM (only with consent); your written evidence or even your uncorroborated verbal evidence. The only difference is it doesn't have the same advice about how the coaches cannot force you to give access to UJM, but then that goes without saying - again, DPA.

    So, basically everyone, if your UC coach gets pedantic about which benefit the rules apply to, this is ammunition they can't really argue with! Well, some might, but then you can ask if their boss is aware they are flouting the rules.

    Hope this is useful.
  2. Chilli.s

    Chilli.s changed the little words

    Someone should devise an app that does. Trawls job sites and notes what has or could have been applied for.
    LeytonCatLady likes this.
  3. Jon-of-arc

    Jon-of-arc Fully self-actualised

    I can't really see the point in worrying too much about showing them whats on my UJM a/c. The only reason to have one is to record your jobsearch to show them. Just as convenient a method as any other. They were certainly pushing it as there preferred method when I was signing on in October, but they did concede they'd accept other methods. Its all just bollocks, really, no one has the time to check what you're doing, so you can put any old shit. Fucking have to, in fact - 35 hours a week lol. I was actively searching, had two job offers within a month, but still had to spend half an hour every couple of days making up plausible sounding stuff on top of what I actually had done, to add to my record. Got a gold star for my great job search and everything.
    zippyRN and LeytonCatLady like this.
  4. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Hi Jon,

    You're right, UJM is a convenient method for those who choose to use it - my issue is with coaches lying to you and saying no other form of evidence will do.
    Equilizer, Celyn and Jon-of-arc like this.
  5. Jon-of-arc

    Jon-of-arc Fully self-actualised

    It did really piss me off when they acted like it was the only way, so worth pointing out what you did in the op. Went out of there literally fuming, but then got on with using it, and found it reasonably convenient. When I went back to sign on two weeks later, that's when they said I could have done it on a bit of paper or whatever.
    muscovyduck and LeytonCatLady like this.
  6. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    I mean, I have nothing against using UJM to look for work as long as the company have posted their direct contact details on there and it's not through a dodgy third-party recruiter (I worry about scams).

    Regarding showing the Jobcentre my UJM content or giving them access, I don't like the Big Brother aspect of it, being monitored all the time. Makes me feel like a kid, or a criminal! When you're unemployed, you have very few rights as it is, so that makes me determined to hang on to the few legal rights I do have, such as privacy. So there's a principle involved.

    I have actually tried the digital diary to see what it was like, but it's worse than crap. When you reach the character limit, you have to hit the return key and when I do that, it always ends up crashing and losing what I've put (and I wouldn't put it past the powers-that-be to have designed it that way on purpose so if you've lost everything when you try to show it on signing day, whoops! Sorry, no money for YOU this month!). Writing it all down by hand is less hassle, not to mention covering yourself.

    At the end of the day, I'm trying bloody hard to look for work (hopefully have an offer or two coming up soon); I'm keeping a record so it annoys me when all they can do is nitpick about the bloody format I've chosen to present it in. My coach even acknowledges I've done a lot, but when I saw her the other day, she said "You don't need to write down everything you've done; only examples!" Ha ha yeah, and we all know what will happen then. She'll then say I've not done enough! Not falling for that trick.
    Chemical needs and Celyn like this.
  7. weltweit

    weltweit Well-Known Member

    I don't mind giving them access to my UJM activities. I note everything I do as I do it, in a spreadsheet with the date, and it takes only a minute or two to upload to UJM. Letting them see my UJM seems to satisfy them in the fastest and easiest way.
    zippyRN and LeytonCatLady like this.
  8. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    That's cool Weltweit. I'm genuinely glad to hear you've had a hassle free time with them and they haven't used your UJM against you. Unfortunately, I never really know where I am with this particular coach - she can be friendly and encouraging one day, plain arsey the next. I can't afford to trust her.

    For anyone else who's uncomfortable about allowing access, I have done a little more digging and the fact they can't make UC claimants give access is also confirmed in paragraph 10 of ADM Memo 15/16.
    And in case your coach says "But the rules have changed!", the current regs I quoted in the OP were updated and are valid as of October 2016.
  9. zippyRN

    zippyRN Orange, Fuzzy, and allowed to possess Cat As

    Once again the blind spots over the attitude cycle rule the roost ...
  10. existentialist

    existentialist Danced on by a twerking bee

    I think it's time you fucked off from support threads.

    You contribute nothing.
  11. Libertad

    Libertad Would it help?

    Report every post zippyRN makes on a support thread.
  12. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    Why stop there?
  13. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Happy belated New Year everybody. As this thread's been bumped, I thought I'd give you all an update.

    My usual coach went on a month's annual leave from mid December to January, so I saw someone else, who actually listened to what I had to say and was reasonable. I showed him my written jobsearch record and he asked me if I'd considered writing it up in UJM. I explained my issues with allowing access, and the technical glitches I'd had with it. He just said that was fine as long as I was keeping a record of some description, and never brought it up again. It goes to show the answer will be different depending on which member of staff you're speaking to, which is why I like to keep up to date with the official regulations. It does feel as though each of them makes up rules as they go along.

    The lady I usually see is also OK most of the time, to be fair. When I first met with her after making my UC claim in October, that's the first time she tried the line about it being mandatory to allow DWP access to your UJM account. I knew this wasn't true from reading the UJM toolkit when I briefly claimed JSA in early 2015. At that time she said "Whatever way you're comfortable with" and put a note on the system to say I recorded my jobsearch in clerical format.

    In November, I briefly got some casual restaurant work, which got me away from the DWP for a bit, but it was a shitty zero hour contract and they stopped giving me hours so I had to re-engage with the Jobcentre and got the same coach. On 7th December 2016, I went for our weekly appointment and she was 10 minutes late seeing me because she was in a one-to-one with her manager. When she came out, I handed her my written record as usual, and that's when she brought up the UJM thing again, quite aggressively. It didn't take a fly on the wall to work out that this manager must have been giving her a hard time and pressuring her to be tougher on claimants. I stood firm and said "I'm not allowing access and that's that. Your regs prove you have no right to insist on it" which is when she tried to tell me the rules under UC were different (which prompted me to dig around online and make this thread). She gave me some vague BS about the "district checking it" (read: the regional manager gives her a hard time if she's not bullying enough claimants to use it and allow access) and how if I didn't give access to UJM, it could look like I wasn't really jobsearching. I asked why typing the same information into the activity notes magically made it more valid than if it was handwritten, and her reply was "They discourage it [handwritten evidence]." I said "They can discourage it all they like, but until you can show me a change in the rules that specifically says I have to allow access to my UJM account because no other method is accepted, they're wasting their time." Once again, she backed off.

    On the positive side, I don't think this coach is malicious. One day I'd left the appointment and we'd forgotten to book the next one. She made sure to ring me and tell me when to come in next. If she truly wanted to fuck my life up, she could have easily sent out a letter on the slowest service so I wouldn't get it on time, and she didn't do that. I saw her again too on this Friday just gone, and she was OK then too. She asked what I'd worn to a recent interview and when I said black suit, black shoes and a nice blouse, she said she was sure I'd looked very smart. She can be lovely when she wants to be! But if the subject of UJM comes up again, I'll ask for the manager and ask why they're making staff lie to claimants.
    doodlelogic and Libertad like this.
  14. Jackobi

    Jackobi swallows anything

    When I was claiming JSA, I found that a lot of the employees don't know the rules themselves but consult their manager if challenged. At least that's what happened in my experience a few times when I challenged incorrect assertions.
    Tankus and LeytonCatLady like this.
  15. Anton

    Anton Well-Known Member

    may find this useful, apologies if its been posted before. it is Universal Automaton, that does the UJM jobsearch and applies for jobs for you.
    Universal Automation

    it is an app on google chrome.
    its not perfect, but can be useful.
    I was unemployed, and UJM is a prelude to a creepy police state.
    cause of a lot of stress and tension as well.

    if you don't use UJM they will bully you. it gets worse the longer you may be on it.

    I also found this youtube channel where this guy discusses some of these issues about UJM, and I found them helpful.

    best of luck and don't let the bastards grind you down!!
    Equilizer, LeytonCatLady and Libertad like this.
  16. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Thanks Anton, I just watched that video and James really knows his stuff.

    I just got back from today's appointment and UJM wasn't mentioned at all. However, I was a bit annoyed because she said "So you've been on UC for a year now and not found anything?" It's true that I did put in a claim for UC in January 2016, but nothing came of it because I found work shortly after that and stayed with that employer until September. Even then, I didn't claim again until October because I wanted to try and find some more work before turning to the Department of Worthless Plebs. And I did get some casual restaurant work in November, so it's technically only two months I've been unemployed, but it seems they don't count any work you've done, however long term. Basically, once you've put in a claim for Universal Credit, that's it - they get your teeth into you for life and they'll say you're long term unemployed regardless. She's now using this as an excuse to send me for all manner of zero hour crap. The good thing about UC is you don't have to sign off and get nothing at all - they just adjust what you get based on your earnings each month - but the bad thing is you can't refuse it and even if you don't, you're never really free of the DWP. The only safe way is to find something permanent, but permanent jobs are like hen's teeth.

    Just got to keep surviving, I guess. Thanks for listening.
  17. Anton

    Anton Well-Known Member

  18. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Thanks Anton. The good news is I started work today! It's a call centre role at a housing association, and it's 12 weeks on the agency with a look to possibly go permanent after that. I had to ring Universal Credit this morning to explain my change of circumstances and it felt great saying I wouldn't be in tomorrow (she'd booked me onto a group interview thing for a dodgy-sounding zero-hour "opportunity"). As my hours are full time, I won't need to attend any JCP appointments. I'm determined to work fecking hard and really prove myself at this job so they keep me on and I'll hopefully never have to deal with DWP again.

    Anyone reading this who's going through the same thing, don't lose heart! I know it's hard when you're not in work, but I promise one day you'll find the perfect fit. I have received some great moral support on this thread from the Urbs, and anyone who could do with the same, please post to this thread when you like and I'll be more than happy to pay it forward and help or advise any way I can.

    Don't give up, jobseekers! Your time is gonna come.
  19. Anton

    Anton Well-Known Member

    the job centre advisers have to play a good cop/bad cop routine. they are trained to do it.

    i was shouted at by my adviser "ten months and you've found nothing!'.
    he then asked to see my UJB account. I said I didn't have the number, and that I didn't have to show him because it was against european date protection law. at that, he got angry, and asked me if I lived in the borough of xxxx, and if i was really looking for work, and whether i would move somewhere else blah blah blah. i then had to come in the next week with the number. I was frogmarched to a computer, to open my account so the adviser could see the jobsearch on UJB. I said i would do it, but he needed to direct me, ie write it down and sign it. he did that, and i showed the account but it was suitably prepared and packed thanx to the universal automaton.

    he calmed down after, and didn't ask to look at it again.

    its a routine they are trained to do, be nice at first, then later more harsh, they have certain phrases they all use. they don't like it when someone tells them about data protection.
    muscovyduck and LeytonCatLady like this.
  20. Anton

    Anton Well-Known Member

    i found work recently as well.

    with the exception of some of the details, everything you say above is what i feel.
    LeytonCatLady likes this.
  21. Puddy_Tat

    Puddy_Tat lumpen proletaricat

    this is the most important advice when dealing with DWP


    hope you stick around Urban. And your kitty - who I'm sure would be welcome on the cat thread
    LeytonCatLady likes this.
  22. Thimble Queen

    Thimble Queen Sparkly cat whisperer

    LeytonCatLady likes this.
  23. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Cheers guys. Gotta go to bed now as I'm going to Welwyn tomorrow morning for training - though my role is based in Enfield. But they're refunding my train fare! This employer seems to treat staff well and, as appropriate for my online identity, I feel like I've really landed on my feet.

    Anton likes this.
  24. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    existentialist likes this.
  25. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone. I'm still at my job and I'll find out in about four weeks if I'm being made permanent. I hope so, because I've just come home from work to a letter from the DWP saying they want me to come in for a Universal Credit appointment on Monday 3rd April!

    WTF? I told them I was working full time and they said I wouldn't need to attend any appointments. I'm also getting more than enough to pay rent, bills, eat, have a few treats AND save a few quid, so I'm not getting Universal Credit payments anyway, as I no longer need it. However, this apparently doesn't stop the Jobcentre vultures stalking you! I'll phone them up and remind them of course, but don't they think if I needed their help I would have already contacted them? It makes me sick the way they try and control you even when you're not claiming. At least they can't sanction my money if they're not giving me any. Feckin' eejits!
  26. One dog

    One dog Well-Known Member

    This sounds like someone at DWP has made a mistake. If you don't have a claim then no conditionality can apply. It sounds like you are earning above the threshold anyway.
  27. LeytonCatLady

    LeytonCatLady Well-Known Member

    I'll keep the letter until 31st March (last working day before the appointment) and phone them then. Being currently temp, I'm conscious it could end any time theoretically, so I won't be too quick to say "No, I don't need you" and then something happens and I find the opposite is true.

    I'm enjoying the job but I'm nervous every time a mistake is brought to my attention in case it's used as an excuse for not making me permanent. On the other hand, they're bringing in a lot of changes and everyone's fucking stuff up due to the confusion. I don't think this is the sort of company that would single me out for that, and logically, if I was going to be let go, I would have been by now; however I have been wrong before.

    We're all due to have monthly one to ones next week - my second since I've been there - and they pick two of your calls at random and score you. I always worry in case they pick my two shittest! In general, I've been told that I'm doing well, and I would hope if they had concerns about my general performance, they would take me aside and tell me that straightaway and not just save it for our monthly catch-ups.
  28. roman94

    roman94 New Member

    I am on the sick for my anxiety .. my work coach is hell to me .. i have to have telephone appointments and yet she still wants me to come in to show my personal prescribed medications.. this can't be right can it ?.. she still wants me to use UCJ but i prefer to go on indeed much easier and i dont feel like im being spied on... can i ask UC to turn off my work search and carry on with telephone appointments?
  29. Who PhD

    Who PhD strong and stable Dalek Empire Banned

    telephone appointments?

    How do you manage to get those?

    Sorry to hear your 'work coach' (i hate these stupid monikers) is a wanker.

    I didn't think ESA claimants had to look for work.
  30. Orang Utan

    Orang Utan Sub-Sub-Librarian

    I'm on JSA and have been told I need to record my job searching activities on Universal Jobmatch. Apparently I need to be looking for work for at least 35 hours a week, which is ridiculous. It takes a couple of hours a day, if that.
    Have the rules changed?

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