Iain Duncan Smith’s plans to make using the Universal Jobmatch website mandatory for all jobseeker’s allowance claimants (Unemployed must use website to seek work, 21 December) will do nothing to help the 400,000 spending Christmas on the dole for a second year running. Government claims that the site makes it easier to find work are ridiculous. For those that have access to it, the internet is already crammed with recruitment websites that are better designed and more specific to people’s skills and experience. Jobseekers without home internet access will be forced to spend their time queueing in the few remaining libraries to get on it.
No matter how good any website is, it cannot conjure jobs out of thin air. If the government wanted people in work they could invest in a serious house-building programme or re-employ the thousands of tax collectors that have been made redundant to go after the £123bn of taxes avoided and evaded by the likes of Starbucks. Instead they have invested in an invasive website which asks those looking for work to select why they haven’t applied for any unsuitable positions from a drop-down menu where seven out of eight options could be spun into a reason to stop people’s benefits.
Right to Work campaign
•?So as the public sector sheds jobs (Council mulls plan to sack most of its staff, 13 December) the private sector seems to be creating them (Record number of private-sector jobs, 13 December). We should treat the government’s celebration of this turn of events with caution, as these are not direct equivalences. And it is not just that the private-sector jobs being created are worse paid, less secure and non-unionised. The public sector embodies principles which the private sector emulates more by accident rather than by design: service, accountability, commitment to the public good, and satisfying need ahead of profit. Every public-sector job loss undermines these principles, and the government’s slash-and-burn attack on the very idea of the public makes it ever harder to sustain and preserve them.
Prof Andrew Dobson