The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has branded reports that it plans to get rid of the Universal Jobmatch website as simply “speculation”.
According to leaked documents seen by the Guardian, the government is planning to ditch its main jobs website, which the DWP requires unemployed people to sign up to, when the contract for the service ends in 2016. The site’s reputation has been marred after a number of fake job adverts appeared on it, such as one for a “target elimination specialist” for MI6.
However, a spokesperson for DWP said that the site has “revolutionised” the way that jobseekers find work, and it claims that it has helped many people find work since it was launched two years ago. The site is run by online recruitment firm Monster.
“How people find work has become increasingly digital, so it’s right, and responsible, that DWP should continually look to ensure we are making the best offer to jobseekers,” the spokesperson said.
“The current Universal Jobmatch contract comes to an end in 2016 so any speculation on what will happen after that is premature.”
The site allows jobcentre staff to monitor the activity of jobseekers, enabling them to check which jobs have been applied for and suggesting new jobs.
As well as attracting hackers in the early days of the site launch, DWP has also had to remove 120,000 job adverts at the beginning of March for not adhering to the site’s terms and conditions. Channel 4 News and Labour MP Frank Field, through separate investigations, discovered hundreds of thousands of fake and repeated adverts, with some using the site to steal personal information for identity fraud.
It is understood that the documents leaked to the Guardian are between DWP officials carrying out routine forward-planning for the future of the website before the contract ends, and that no recommendations have been made to ministers.
The Universal Jobmatch website was launched on 19 November and is accessed via the government portal gov.uk. It replaced the Jobcentre Plus website, which was exposed by Channel 4 News as being vulnerable to fraudsters in 2011.