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Recession exacerbated Jobcentre computer woes

IT not prepared for sudden influx of unemployed

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Research has revealed that IT problems hindered Jobcentre Plus in dealing with an influx of people at the beginning of the recession.

Glitches and crashes in the services's computerised job vacancies database, the Labour Market System (LMS), exacerbated delays experienced by unemployed people.

The research, commissioned and published by the Department for Work and Pensions, says that Jobcentre Plus staff were concerned that the LMS was not working "as intended" for new programmes, including the Jobseekers' Regime and Flexible New Deal.

"They reported that the expected 'markers' did not work, or did not appear," says the document. "This would often cause staff to backtrack for information; or to enter data that should have been pre-populated."

In addition, the researchers say that the LMS failed on a number of occasions, causing Jobcentre staff to cancel interviews with clients.

The pressures of the recession reduced the amount of staff training. The researchers reported that the views of staff about e-learning courses, which advisers completed at their own pace and when time permitted, varied considerably.

Some staff felt they had been "thrown in at the deep end" and criticised the computerised system for not providing an explanation of answers to questions.

In some offices, the problems were compounded by the temporary cancellation of weekly staff meetings, which had been a forum for knowledge sharing and problem solving.

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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