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Exclusive: Jobcentre Plus staff unable to use their own online jobseekers allowance registration system

Despite an online registration system for jobseekers, at the taxpayer's expense, Jobcentre Plus staff are unable to use the Government Gateway to process claims online, HR magazine can exclusively reveal.

One jobseeker told HR magazine job centre staff at Peckham, Forest Hill and Belfast admitted they were unable to use the Department for Work and Pension's (DWP) Government Gateway system to process his application, slowing down the process of his jobseeker's allowance claim.

The jobseeker registered for the Government Gateway system to apply for benefits online on 30 June and has still not received any payments, despite contacting three job centre offices and filling out his details on paper three times.

The source told HR magazine he also contacted the Government Gateway helpline to be reminded of his registration details but staff were unable to assist, meaning the claim had been lost in the system.

He said: "When I called the number listed on the ‘forgotten your password?' link on the Government Gateway site, staff said they could not change my password. I re-iterated I was not asking them to change it - I just wanted to be reminded what it was per their own link. I was told it cannot be changed and I pointed out again I did not want to change it. They just didn't get it, so I gave up.

"My claim is now completely lost in the system with nobody able to access it."

The system was designed to allow jobseekers to register their interest in applying for jobseekers allowance online. They submit the relevant details online and this is followed up within two days by a telephone call from a Jobcentre adviser who will complete the process.

A spokeswoman from the DWP was unable to confirm how much the online registration system cost to implement. She told HR magazine between November 2008 and June 2009, Jobcentre Plus had recruited 9,500 staff to deal with increased numbers of people requiring support to get back to work - but she admitted "not all" had been trained to use the online registration system.

The DWP spokeswoman said: "Unfortunately we cannot comment on individual cases. It is a shame the system did not work for this person but we have no evidence to suggest it is a wider problem."

She added: "Over 10,000 customers use the online registration service every week. It is just one way people can access the services that Jobcentre Plus provides, and was introduced to respond to customer demands for this service."

The news comes only days after the DWP announced it is to launch an inquiry into the discrepancy between the number of unemployed people and the numbers claiming jobseekers allowance.

In July this year the number of people declaring themselves unemployed rose by 281,000 on the previous quarter but the number of people claiming job seekers allowance only increased by 23,800.

Have you heard of any similar problems with jobcentre Plus' online registration system? Let us know on our Forum