Jimmy Stirling's DWP Diary: Do dodgy companies have access to my data?

In his first update of 2017, 62-year-old Jimmy Stirling is concerned about dodgy approaches by individuals who have access to his information on government websites

I AM Jimmy Stirling, a 62-year-old unemployed graphic designer, photographer and musician, single grandfather and social housing tenant living in Glasgow.

I receive Jobseeker's Allowance of £50 per week and have a very small pension payment of just under £25 per week. I do voluntary work for my neighbouring community and look after one of my granddaughters for two days per week.

I was recently conscripted to take part in the UK Government's Community Work Programme, where I would be forced to work for my Jobseeker's Allowance, which I see as slave labour. This not volunteering, this is not being paid a wage, this is conscription.

I am against this terrible programme and this is my experience in trying to avoid a six-month, 30-hours-per-week sentence just to juggle the government's statistics to make them look good.

Below is my latest diary update. You can read the others here.

4 January 2017

It was an early start to the year and back to the Jobcentre to sign on. I got the fair and respectful lady again, wished her a happy new year and signed on. Straightforward.

18 January 2017

Regular signing day and my work coach was not there, so I had a different person who I had not dealt with before. She said the same of me.

The short signing-on period extended to 30 minutes as she had to fill out a form on her computer that, apparently, my work coach was supposed to update fortnightly. So, she had to retype all my relevant information yet again. After this was done, it was observed that the electronic signing-on system was not working, so I had to revert to the half size bookies-style pen to sign on paper.

I asked her about whether the Jobcentre would be closing. She told me that they had heard bits and pieces over the last few months but still don’t know what is to happen. I mentioned that I would have an extra 15-20 minute walk should I have to go to an alternative Jobcentre but I added that it was not as bad as those in Castlemilk who have to walk to Newlands, which is much further away for claimants. She agreed.

26 January 2017

An odd thing happened.

I received an email from a recruitment company asking me to come to an interview for the position of a call centre advisor. What was odd about it? I didn’t apply for the job; my name wasn’t on the email; it didn’t tell me where the interview was to be held. 

I had to call a mobile number or reply to the email. The email address of the company was a .gmail address, which made me a bit suspicious.

I called the number and got a message stating that the office was closed for the Christmas period! I sent an email back stating that I was available but that I had no record or recollection of applying for the post.

I had a return email telling me that the post was included on the Directgov website before the new year. The Directgov website is the one the DWP uses to advertise jobs. It is possible on the site, if you choose, to have a public CV where companies can head hunt.

I was not happy with this, that a post appeared out of the blue, so I did a bit of googling and found out the recruitment company was a one-person show with no website, no landline number and, from what I could glean, had some sort of premises in Dundee. 

I also found out that the only online reference to this company was a Facebook presence with hardly any information apart from the mobile number and the person’s personal email address.

I returned an email to the company explaining all of the above points and that I was not sure of its credentials. I received an email later telling me that its credentials were not in question and that, "I recruit for several companies throughout Scotland, i do not have a website page, there is a (company name) Facebook page and im not in the habit of publishing my landline number for any job vacancies."

Notice the lack of a capital "I". I contacted my Jobcentre to advise them of this and that I was not happy about what I considered an unprofessional approach from this company.

The Jobcentre noted my concern and said they would look into it. We shall see.

30 January 2017

Well, I thought that the last epistle I received was odd until I got another odd one.

"I wonder if you are able to help I am currently recruiting a Digital Marketing Executive to join a well established organisation based in Edinburgh. Salary circa £25,000.

"Whilst this role might not be for you, you may know of someone who would fit the bill. Benefit from our refer a friend scheme if the candidate you recommend is successful at interview for this vacancy."

So, ignore me and then ask me to put you on to someone else?

1 February 2017

Normal signing day, but I waited 20 minutes to be attended to. My usual work coach was back from his travels and meetings. Once again I was encouraged to apply for civil service posts within the DWP section.

I still get anxious when attending to sign on, I just never know what may hit me.

Picture courtesy of Jimmy Stirling

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