Fraud investigators called in as a 'third of a million' vacancies listed on Government's Jobmatch site are claimed to be fake

 

Fresh doubts have emerged over the Government’s controversial welfare reforms amid claims that a third of a million vacancies advertised on the new Universal Jobmatch website could be bogus.

The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed it was investigating 179 employers for potentially breaching the rules on the site.

The disclosure comes as it emerged that national fraud investigators are examining allegations of a scam in the North West of England in which job seekers responding to adverts were asked to hand over £65 for background criminal checks for positions which did not exist.

Universal Jobmatch was set up in November 2012. Since March last year anyone claiming jobseekers’ allowance can be required to apply for a minimum number of jobs through the site each week to prove they are actively looking for work – or facing losing benefits.

Whilst Government figures show more than half a million employers have advertised on the site, it was recently claimed that as many as one in three of the vacancies could be fake.

Labour MP Frank Field, who obtained the figures, has asked the National Audit Office to investigate. He 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.”

Among the breaches uncovered so far are employers promoting franchise opportunities or pyramid selling schemes which require applicants to part with money up front. While not illegal, they do flout Jobmatch terms and conditions and are removed.

In another instance, positions advertised on Universal Jobmatch for trainee child counsellors with salaries of £18,500 a year rising to £34,000. Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside Police have all received complaints from job seekers who claim they were duped after attending interviews.

In Liverpool successful applicants claimed they turned up for work but were told that the company did not exist. The matter has been referred to the national fraud agency Action Fraud.

Under the terms of the deal advertisers are permitted to conduct interviews in Jobcentre Plus premises.

In a letter obtained by Mr Field last month, the DWP said: “Currently there are 179 accounts advertising 352,569 jobs which potentially breach the terms and conditions (of Universal Jobmatch) and those organisations are being contacted to seek evidence of compliance.

“If evidence is not provided the accounts will be terminated within five working days and all associated vacancies removed from Universal Jobmatch. It is anticipated that this exercise will take around three weeks to complete.”

In a recent Parliamentary written answer, DWP minister Esther McVey said it would be too expensive to keep records of the number of people finding work through the site or how long they had remained employment.

A DWP spokesman said millions of vacancies had been posted since 2012 and problems of bogus adverts were common to all on-line job sites.

“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,” he added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there