Well it seems over the past month or so, the Job Centre seems to have changed a lot of things for people on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), like adding more possible sanctions if you fail to attend ANYTHING your Job Centre advisor tells you that you have to do (i.e; find and apply for 'x' amount of suitable jobs a week, attend interviews, attend full time work experience for no extra money, etc...), then they decided to get Monster to revamp the Job Centre's job search site, which to be honest is the biggest load of crap I have ever seen!
When Universal Jobmatch was first up and running you could register for a Government Gateway ID, however everytime you tried to log in to Universal Jobmatch to try and upload your CV or allow the Job Centre to see that you're actively seeking for jobs (that's if you give them permission too - data protection and all that malarkey). Then this 20+ million pound revamp, that was to be oh so spectacular ended up getting some problems too. Now considering jobs must be approved before being placed on the main Universal Jobmatch listings? Because for some reason a job vacancy for a Hitman has appeared and also a job vacancy for two gay princesses also turned up on there too.
Talking of dodgy listings too, the Universal Jobmatch website is full of fake job listings - ranging from pyramid schemes to other scam based items. Best bet is to only apply for the ones that have a proper company based email address (i.e; Avoid anything ending in '@hotmail.com' or '@gmail.com'). Real companies will use their own corporations email addresses (i.e; '@hmv.com', '@tfl.gov.uk'). Also you may notice the phone numbers looking a bit dodgy, don't worry, for some reason the first digit gets put to the end of the number so 01234 567567 would appear as 1234 567 567 0. Obviously Monster can't seem to create a website that works properly.
Anyways, besides that, I was informed when I went to the Job Centre on Tuesday just gone (4th December) that our Job Centre is trialling a new method of signing on. Now normally you get given a day and a time when you first start signing on that you must attend (usually every two weeks), then you get called over and have to sit down with the advisor, explain what you've been doing to find work and show him/her the "Looking for work" record (ES4JP 01/04), then they belittle you with the usual gibberish that's basically making you feel small (mainly because they have a job and you don't) and then they have a quick look and see what they can find on their computer, then you sign a piece of paper to say you've been and then it's off home... with your money going into your bank 3-4 days later.
Though this new trial - which in our district is ONLY at Atherstone Job Centre (ain't we the lucky ones!) - changes a fair load of that... the "Looking for work" record (ES4JP 01/04) is no more and is now replaced with a double-sided printed A4 piece of paper with 6 rows to fill in applied jobs for that week (ES5JP) and a section at the bottom to note down where else you've looked for work (newspaper, shop windows). You no longer need to sign to say you've arrived at the Job Centre because you've now got another sheet of paper (ES24JP) that you must sign and date at the bottom of it. Also the signing on time is no longer a fixed time (11.35am) it's now an open hour block (9am-10am) so you just turn up anytime within that hour, walk up to the Welcome Desk, hand over the two sheets of paper you have, then they give you a fresh copy of them and then you go home. No need to see an advisor at all... you're literally in and out in less than 20 seconds.
So they've scrapped the advisors - so no more belittleling conversations - also got rid of the exact time, so you can no longer get punished for being 5 minutes late now that you have a window of an hour to visit the Job Centre and swap your old filled out forms for new ones.
I'm not sure where else they're trialling this, but I think to be honest, it's a much better idea and hopefully this trial proves successful and it gets to stay. :)