Daily JSA sign on: more sadism for the hell of it from the DWP

This is a report about having to sign on every day for jobseekers’ allowance – an entirely pointless “process” that seems to be taking hold:

On Wednesday, the Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group and I went to talk with JSA claimants at the North Kensington jobcentre.

Almost as soon as we got there, people brought a significant fact to our attention: the North Kensington jobcentre appears to have instigated a daily JSA sign on regime for some people. Daily sign on does, or at least is, pretty much what it says on the tin – it means that people must present themselves at their local jobcentre every single day of the week and sit and wait until they see an adviser for a brief time. Their attendance is noted and there’s a (very) quick catchup about people’s jobsearches. And that’s it.

Daily sign on was one of the platforms government’s ironically-named Help To Work platforms. The Help To Work scheme was launched in April to much fanfare (by government) and consternation (by reasonable people). I wonder if we’re seeing evidence now that it is underway, after a fashion. We’re certainly seeing evidence that people were right to dread it. The daily sign on exercise is nasty and utterly pointless – certainly as far as helping people into work goes. The three people who I talk about in this article reported that absolutely nothing happens at their daily signon appointments. I think we’ll say that again – absolutely nothing happens. JSA claimants must turn up at their jobcentre and have their attendance noted. One person reported a quick chat and check with a jobcentre adviser about jobs applied for – “and that’s ridiculous, because they can check everything that I am doing online,” he said. “They forced us to use [Universal] Jobmatch, so they can check everything already.”

When that’s done, the person is given a time for the next day’s appointment. After that, it’s all over until the next day. (A man I spoke to at length at the Clacton jobcentre recently reported exactly the same experience). Talk about an exercise in humiliation and futility – like people who must use the already-degrading JSA system needed another one.

People can’t use jobcentre phones to call employers (the man who described daily sign on process as “ridiculous” had got into trouble with security for demanding that the jobcentre let him use a phone to call prospective employers), no employers are rung on their behalf, no job interviews are arranged. I can well believe that – I’ve attended a few sign on appointments with people now and have seen how this system “works.” I don’t think I’ve been to one that has lasted more than ten minutes. Which means that daily sign on is not about finding people work. It’s about taking people by the scruff of the neck and keeping a very tight hold. It’s about letting people who are out of work know that their lives are no longer their own – that once people are unemployed, they’re not entitled to even a few hours’ peace of mind, or relief, from the DWP. It’s about disrupting people’s lives and making sure that they get up each day not knowing whether they’ll still have JSA at the end of it. It is depraved. Nobody we spoke to on Wednesday knew from day to day what time their sign on appointment would be. They were given a time for the next day’s appointment at the previous day’s appointment. That means people can’t plan their week, or even from day to day. They’re not allowed to plan their week. The subtext is that people who find themselves out of work have no lives – and, perhaps more to the point, are not entitled to lives. If you’re unemployed, you must forfeit your right to yourself. The people we spoke with were absolutely furious about it. I am too, just by the way. I think we’re very much at the point where the DWP should be forced to open the doors on all of this. This regime exists to deliver stress and panic, and nothing else. That needs to be fully revealed.

The first man we talked was in and out of work, as so many people we meet at jobcentres are. He was 46. He worked in marketing and business development – “anything. I will take it.” He found work himself and was hoping that a few leads he was following would pay off soon. His problem was that he could only get short-term contract work. I find that again and again.

The daily sign on (he’d just started) was angering him badly and very disruptive to his actual jobhunting: “it is so time-consuming and it doesn’t serve a purpose for me or them. It costs me and them time and money for me to be here every day.” Because of that, he’d asked the jobcentre if “it was possible for them to provide me with additional services while I’m here – where I can use the phone for basic things.” Using a phone for half-an-hour or so would mean his daily attendance wasn’t a complete waste of time. Unfortunately, this suggestion was not well-received. He raised his voice and management was called down. “The lady decided to that I was being awkward and she walked away and she calmed down.” That, he said, was ridiculous. “All I wanted was access to a phone. There’s nothing there. I don’t think I was being awkward asking them what provisions they have.” As I say, his actual appointment was a complete waste of time. “They went onto the computer to see whether I had done any jobsearches. But I said that I want them to provide a service.”

He was struggling with the notion that all jobhunting must take place online. “Managers [have this] idea that we should do everything online – even chase applications online. But that’s not how it works. You need to followup with phone calls. I think this is really unfair.”


The next man we spoke to was 40 and wanting to work as a recruitment adviser. “Not like them,” he said, looking at the jobcentre. “A real recruitment adviser.” We had a bit of a laugh about that. He said he worked from time to time as a volunteer. His big problem was that he had a criminal record “for drugs.” He was finding that past almost impossible to put behind him. “I’m going to pay for that forever,” he said. He probably will, too. Such is our punitive era.

This man said:

“They put me on one course and say that they are going to guarantee me a job, but I haven’t got a job. Ingeus, A4E – I been to them.” He had been out of work for two years.

He said that the the daily sign on “feels like I’ve got to sign on at a police station. They are keeping tabs on you.” (I thought that was an interesting and potentially relevant comparison to draw, by the way. This is slightly off-topic – but I’ve worked on stories about electronic tagging and have wondered if tagging would ever be extended to people who sign on. I say this because my own investigations into Capita’s plugging for the Serco and G4S tagging contracts found that tagging companies planned to extend their offer far and wide – certainly beyond criminal justice. Capita wasn’t too keen to tell me who they had in mind for tagging outside criminal justice, either).

“I’ve been doing it for the last two weeks, every day. But for what. There is nothing when you get here. Sign my name and they give you another time for the next day. [It is at] different times, so I try to get them to do it in the morning. I can’t go away for a day or anything. I say they got me by the short and curlies.

This man was sanctioned about three months ago. “I missed an appointment.” He challenged the sanction, though – “and finally I got the money back. I only missed one appointment and they sanctioned me for a month. That’s fucking long enough.”

He wasn’t sure how to overcome the problem of his criminal record. “It’s hard. They won’t help offenders. As soon as you put down [the criminal record on a job application] they say “no thank you.” I have applied for a job and put Yes for a criminal record and got a reply right away saying “no thank you.” No matter how you dress it up, they won’t look past it. I’m still young. I’m 40. Opportunities are just going past me. It’s a waste of time.”


The third person we spoke with was a woman who had her daughter with her – a young girl of about 13 or 14. This woman was signing on because she’d been made redundant. She’d recently been on the work programme and as soon as she returned, the jobcentre told her she had to start attending daily. She’d first assumed the daily sign on was a sort of punishment. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” she said. She’d also been sanctioned. “They said I wasn’t following the regulations… It affects everyone,” the woman said. “She [my daughter] had to suffer as well… [before I was made redundant] I never, ever thought this would happen, that it would be like this. They just mop the floor with you.”

38 thoughts on “Daily JSA sign on: more sadism for the hell of it from the DWP

  1. Pingback: Daily JSA Sign On: Part Of ‘Help To Work?’ | Same Difference

  2. Recently I have been mandated to attend a course,2 days a week,basic English and Maths,at the end of 6 Months you receive the equivalent of a GCSE. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering ,Airframe and Power Plant,fixed and rotary wing. I explained this to the “Adviser” to no avail. The “Instructor/Guard” hands out the modules,he is polite,but will not/cannot answer questions. I have come to the realization that this is a two part system..(1) The Provider cashes in from the DWP in order to finance the failed Work Programme (2) To try and frustrate the Claimant or find a reason to sanction. Paranoid? Bloody right!

  3. You are right, it is about control and taking the fight out of claimants, and it is very successful. I fear going to the jobcentre and feel a great deal of anxiety when close by. That has only come about from my experiences with advisers.

    When you couple together bad policy from IDS with the way those policies are administered by JCP staff, it is hard to see it as anything else but deliberate abuse.

    Kafka said something along the lines of ‘these systems are built into the design so that people can de-personalise the bullying… it’s still cruel – it’s still bullying.’

  4. Well, in my experience nothing useful happens in a fortnightly or weekly visit, so that they have even less help to offer on a daily basis is of no surprise. It’s a punishment, nothing more, nothing less. It seems to me the plan is to make claiming so unbearable and humiliating, anybody but the most desperate are likely to throw the towel in. Then the remaining desperate people are eventually picked off with sanctions. The whole system is utterly sadistic, not only because of what happens, but because it is surely costing even more??

    “They forced us to use [Universal] Jobmatch, so they can check everything already.”
    You’re forced to create a UJM profile, but you’re not obliged to use it, and you’re not obliged to give them access to your account. Does anybody get told this? Of course not. Sadly, I’m convinced that exercising my rights and declining to allow access (almost every damn week I might add) I earnt a black mark against my name. They would make me wait at least 30 minutes before I was seen, during which time many other would arrive, see an advisor and leave.

    Just yesterday the Job Centre told me (after 30 min wait) they wanted to start me on these daily signings and I was so infuriated. They know I have health issues, yet they think this is appropriate?? I told her my weekly visits were already too much and a waste of time! Anyway, in an incredibly lucky twist of fate I had received some inheritance money from my Gran (bless her) and I was only there to close my claim. Honestly, I feel horribly guilty. I feel for anyone without the help of close family and friends and relies on this system for the basic necessities. But I know that one day in the not too distant future I will have to return to this…

    Oof, long post, I hope you don’t mind me venting here. I’m so angry and anxious these days I’m constantly exhausted. Society’s most vunerable are being pummelled and the mainstream media acts as if everything’s fixed and it’s business as usual.

    • dude, I block my account from their prying eyes but have to take a photo with my phone daily to prove my activity. God bless your Gran may you not have to suffer these orwellians.

  5. Sadism indeed. If his conviction was for less than 2 years then he should have been told the info that I’ve linked to as “website” (it’s not my site); perhaps you have a way of getting the info to him, Kate.

  6. In my local Devon jobcentre, they have been trying to force the remaining ex-Work Programme claimants still unemployed, who completed the scheme via the old Post Work Programme ‘Support’ Scheme in 2012 -2013, onto the new Help to Work conditions. Even though DWP regulations specify that Help to Work is only for people who completed the Work Programme, and had their Work Programme Completers Interview on or after 28th April 2014. As usual they rely on peoples ignorance, and only if this point about the regulations is raised do they back-off

    • Jeff , you say that ex Work Programmers still unemployed, who had their Completers interview before 27th April 2014 are being forced into Help To work programmes. With due respect if some has been claiming JSA for 1 year, they go onto the Work Programme for 2 years- (a total of 3 years !). Pray tell, why someone would still be unemployed after 3 years if they have been actively seeking work? There are people claiming benefit for years who should have found themselves work . Had they done so, they would not be put on these programmes

      • What could you do if you sending endless applications and not getting any interviews let alone any job? Jobs are not lost to be found there are various reasons .age, not having recent experience, race and so forth, are the reason most people are unable to get a job. This is sadism by government and well of people.

  7. It`s a load of rubbish. It`s all about more opportunities to sanction people, that`s all.
    You can be sanctioned for turning up late for 2 consecutive appointments.
    You can be sanctioned for missing an appointment.
    It says in the Guidance Notes (I`ve just spent the last coupla hours trying to find the link for this – I believe it`s on whatdotheyknow.com) that ‘customers’ (how I loathe that descriptor – as if we can go anywhere else?) should be given different appointment times for each daily visit – this is blatant disruption of your jobsearching routine IMO, effectively leaving you open to the non-specific & spurious DMA referral term ‘doubt of ActivelySeekingEmployment’, which in the hands of an unscrupulous/vindictive or sanction-hungry advisor (gotta meet those targets, sorry, ‘expectations’) can be adapted to mean absolutely anything they want it to as a basis for said referral.

  8. Trouble is the job centre peops are just as gormless and dont seem to know what there doin. When i was signing on i had an adviser who told me all about her exercise routine- not work related. Its about making people feel bad about an. Already awful situation they should be helping not making others feel worse.

    • I have actually been attending this daily sign on regiment for 11 weeks, and have been off the work programme for 14 weeks, long story short they will reimburse your travel cost with a weekly bus pass but you have to go and get it first and remind them on each and every week that the payment is due or you wont get it, also you have to live outside of 3 miles, or have a health condition or you aren’t eligible. I have to admit at this point it’s getting to be really tedious, i didn’t mind it at first but this definitely comes across as punishment. I’m only 31 but i’ve witnessed 61 year olds having to come in every day too, so no one is exempt.

  9. Pingback: Police, daily #JSA sign on and workfare. “It’s like being tagged.” | Kate Belgrave

  10. Pingback: Threatened when we complained the “work skills” course was useless: more stories from the jobcentre | Kate Belgrave

  11. Pingback: Reasonable adjustment for disabled people who sign on for JSA? I think not. | Kate Belgrave

  12. I have only been on JSA for four months. After 4 weeks I was told that I would have to come in weekly, which implied I was not looking hard enough. It’s annoying coming in weekly let alone daily! Also my Adviser chops and changes her mind. Sometimes if she does not have enough appointment slots she will say to come in two weeks instead, which confuses me as every other week they are supposed to pay for my travel. Then they also give you random Adviser Appointments just to throw into the mix as well to catch you off guard hoping that you miss an appointment. These appointments are useless you get no help, they just check your Universal Jobmatch record and tell you to sign and that is it. The truth is that the staff at the DWP do not want you to get a job; they want to keep a hold of you, so they can ensure that they stay in a job. The DWP is abusive and a sign of the increasing tendency towards a police state. Looking for a job nowadays is hard; employers only want to give jobs to those already in a job. They look for any excuse to turn you down, and the level of applicants is so high for any job that you are lucky if you even get shortlisted. There is also an air of arrogance and bullying in most companies now, as they know that so many people are desperate for work. In the future, as computers render more and more humans useless in the job market, we will end up like cattle, under the government’s control and waiting for the slaughter.

  13. Pingback: Reasonable Adjustmwnt For Disabled People Claiming JSA? NOT | Same Difference

  14. Daily-signing has ALWAYS been a form of sanction against the long-term unemployed. But this is what you all wanted, isn’t it? When you voted for the Tories? Or perhaps you thought that they were actually being honest, when they said they wanted to ‘help’ the unemployed? You will notice that the Labour Party hasn’t proposed any alternative, by the way. In any developed society, there will ALWAYS be a pool of ‘unemployable’ people… It’s a judgement on that society, how they provide for them. Unemployed people are ‘fair-game’ for the vast majority of society, because everyone in employment imagines they have no debt to the unemployed… At least in the eighties they made no bones about it: daily-signing was a ‘sanction’ against the people that worked on the ‘black-market’. It is now being used as a deliberate means to disenfranchise and demoralise the unemployed… Next it will be the disabled (reviews on DLA are planned for early next year), and the immigrant population… Don’t worry, though; it will only affect those with no political power, or voice… And they don’t count, do they? They’re not actually ‘human’ when you think about it! Scum like that don’t deserve support!

  15. Tip: Dont show them you are nervous or they will eat you!!!! These clowns in the jobcentre think that they do an important job.. Well I look down on them knowing that I served in the NHS for many years really helping society… If you are an employee of the job centre dealing with claims then FUCK YOU! I hate you and have zero respect for you whoever you might be you weakling…. Quit your post and kill yourself….. you bastards shouldnt have such power……. When you sleep at night dont you think about how the decisions you have made affect people..??!!?? you CUNTS!!!!

  16. Pingback: Daily signon and workfare: they don’t think of us as human beings | Kate Belgrave

  17. Pingback: Work programme provider: we know jobsearch & Jobmatch are pointless, but do them anyway | Kate Belgrave

  18. i know exacly how these people feel … my other half is starting the daily sign on tomorow A4E gave him a job in november only FAILING to tell him it was temporary? he was told it will be a long term contract starting from january we are a family have 2 kids and 3rd on the way and this bloody stress is last thing that we need! this is all a COMPLETE JOKLE! woman at the jobcentre treated him like some type of scum told him hes lazy coz he aint got job like she does … i think is discusting! the system is messed up to put it nicely and they need to sort it out people families are suffering people will starve and lose homes unable to pay for thing because of this fucked up system! … excuse my ranting is just been so hard on us and many many other people. and is only getting worse

  19. I was issued with a mandate to start daily signings so i looked it up on the web. In the help to package it states what the jobcentre must do if they put you on this. They was only giving me the next days signing time so i put in a complaint that under their rules they have to give you 4 weeks appointments in advance.
    I told them to either produce the 4 week timetable or take me off daily signings. If none of the above was done i would then take my complaint to the next stage. The next day they took me off the daily signing.
    They knew they was breaching their own rules and you can find this out in their own rule package in chapter 60 step 3. This the link.
    Or you can just google help to work package. Know your rights and dont let them crap on you.

    • Keith first off thank you so much for the link you provided because of you im now for the first time ever looking forward to going to the job centre today. Im really going to enjoy quoting their own rules to them for the past 3 months as work program returner who has been in and out of work (mostly agency work) every time i sign back on they have been putting me on daily signing but they have never given me a four week timetable. Now to my question after reading through the doccument im fairly sure that sooner or later im going to be classed as  Mandatory Intervention Regime (MIR) what is this likely to mean? as i understand it because i will have compleated the 13 weeks daily signing they cant then put me on a work placement thank god but what are they likely to ask me to do next? any help you or anyone else can give me with this will be greatly appreciated 🙂

    • Hi Keith, thanks for your article. Here is a copy of email i have just posted to DWP advisor regarding upcoming daily signing.

      Copy of Email:

      Further to our telephone conversation earlier today.

      Have researched information about daily signing at Job Centres. Although i did initially welcome the idea as a positive, as i so desperate desire permanent full-time employment, it appears that the purpose for regime is to intimidate and sanction claimants into either signing off or taking any lowest paid job possible too escape daily humiliation rituals imposed by DWP staff in order that they might reach set government target. Other reasons are a suspicion that claimant is working in the black market or just can’t be bothered seeking work. Lazy, etc.

      From what i can gather it appears that daily signing on is discretionary act decided by DWP advisor either singly or in discussion with management under the guise of help to work.

      I have attached file: Help to Work package (for JSA claimants whose Work Programme Completer Interview is on or after 28 April 2014. Please refer to Chapter 60 Step 3.

      Extract: Draw-up the claimant’s daily attendance timetable (on My Work Plan) for the first 4 weeks, ensure the claimant understands what is being asked of them and explain that a revised timetable will be drawn-up every 4 weeks.

      Other sections refer to prior notification via sanctioned letter informing claimant of proposed plan. Not adhered to?

      I formally request under DWP rules that you draw-up daily attendance timetable for first four weeks.

      If your department cannot/will not produce monthly attendance timetable with times and dates as per DWP rules. Then it is that your department will be in breach of your own ruling.

      Should it not be possible for your department to follow ruling for advance monthly timetable. Then it is that i will expect that you cancel daily signing on for my claim.

      I state that should none of the above be actioned then it is that i will lodge a complaint with appropriate department.

  20. I’ve been out of work for over a year now after a bad accident and week in hospital and have put many work applications in. Now going to be put on a work placement.Haven’t checked yet what it is but after 21 years working, sometimes up to 60 hours a week, how about Iain Duncan Smith offering us long time workers a rebate on our National Insurance paid throughout our working years. It is our money we contributed to help through the hard times. Surely makes more sense than these useless work placements. My Missus’ son (20) job searching everyday but now has to sign on everyday. No money, half hour walk to job centre, half hour for appointment(if lucky) and half hour walk back. Waste of 7 and half hours a week. I don’t blame my job centre staff as they are trying to keep their jobs despite cutbacks. What I would like is IDS to tour the job centres and meet and greet his ‘customers’ and answer our questions! Some chance!

  21. Pingback: What exactly are jobcentres for? | Kate Belgrave

    Everyone doing this must claim back the bus fair, even if you could go by car, take the bus and claim it back.
    Using my fair as an average, lets say 1million claiments, that it
    £3,200,000 per day paid out in fares.

    They will soon change their minds about this when the social fund is being depleted at that rate.

  23. Pingback: What exactly is the point of the DWP’s jobsearch regime? | Kate Belgrave

  24. I realise the thread is old but it comes near top for searching on JSA “Daily signing” so I thought I’d add a little victory here to help anyone researching the issue.

    I was put on daily signing and immediately complained that it was hindering (not helping) me getting a job. I made a good (and accurate) point that many of the temp vacancies I apply for close very quickly. It’s not unusual for me to see an email alert at 1000 (maybe for a job that was posted at 1500 the previous day) , apply at 1200 and then, on ringing later, to be told they finished accepting or being able to submit CVs to the client at 1100. After demanding a reply to my complaint I got to make this point to a senior manager (he manages 2 job centres) that I needed to be be able to react quickly, not traipse to the jobcentre to do absolutely zilch. He put me on weekly signing – because I had demonstrated how this would (truthfully) increase my chances of getting a job. I mean you are not going to get a job from a jobcentre, are you?

    • That is a good result and you hit the nail on the head. Never was a regime designed to so utterly interfere with people’s ability to find work than daily effing signon.

  25. Pingback: More about the DWP’s totally pointless You Must Attend The Jobcentre Daily routines… | Kate Belgrave

  26. The harsh treatment we face at the jobcentre is the work of the Conservative party. The unemployed can die in a ditch for all they care.
    When you attend the jobcentre you are treated with contempt. The cretins behind the desk pretend to be annoyed with you as they want to create a hostile environment. They want to cause trouble in order to sanction you.
    Remember when Iain Duncan Smith got into trouble for pretending his wife was his secretary in order to pay her vast sums of money? The money we receive is a pittance compared to the amount that he illegally gained.
    Jobseekers Allowance is seventy three pounds a week. I am sure many Conservative MPs spend that amount at a restaurant in one night.
    We are threatened with being sanctioned over and over again. Those who are sanctioned are destitute. There were no Food-banks when Labour were in power.
    The complacent morons who voted for the Conservative party just because they have a job will regret their actions if they become unemployed. Unless you are extremely wealthy you are a fool to vote for the Conservatives.

  27. i’m a contracter so between jobs i sign on, because of this i’m usually doing a rapid reclaim, which i thought was a good idea instead of filling in the long form, but this has put me down as being unemployed for a year, so i was put on a back to work course, for 2yrs which i hardly attended because i was working on and off over this period, i also had to pay for my own safety passport and ipaf licence,because they wouldn’t fund it. since january i’ve been put on a daily attendance to do a 1hr job search at different times,computers keep playing up and are slow, no toilet facilities or drinks, on monday i’ve got an interview and walkround at 10am for a job start on the 21st march but they still want me to come in at 12;30pm for an hours job search and the rest of the week daily wether i get the job or not, why? the last jobs i did were sept-oct 15 at ramsey, hamps, nov-dec 15 deal, kent, 24th-28th dec15 glasgow, this is how my work goes and i still get classed as long term unemployed. it’s degrading and depressing to attend the centre, to get out of this i can do 6mth voluntary(?) work, just saying i work 5hrs a day, this is 600 hrs, criminals don’t get that long from the courts.the other problem i have is i can’t make a claim online now because i’m over 60yrs and 11mths, which means phoning, only thing i’ve got to look forward too is that i can retire i 4.5yrs, if i make it. sorry about rattling on

  28. Pingback: DWP: Closing your jobcentre will improve the service. People who use the jobcentre: No it won’t | Kate Belgrave

  29. I was told by my advisor that i would
    only have to go in every 2 weeks because my brother who who lives in a care home has just recieved a terminal cancer prognosis, however i was transfered to a new advisor who immediately threatened me with daily signing if i didnt go and work for free somewhere! …..?
    This is naturally causimg me a lot of stress,

  30. Pingback: Shutting down jobcentres is the austerity era’s most underhand cut yet | Govt Newspeak

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