Jobseekers are being made to undertake dubious online personality tests by their jobcentres, The Guardian is reporting.
Their advisors are threatening to remove benefits if they do not do so, even though the results of the tests are not always linked to inputs.
The test is titled 'My Strengths', and is the brainchild of the Prime Minister's 'nudge unit', which aims to make changes in people's behaviour.
It takes a less direct route to getting these changes, preferring to 'nudge' people in the direction it wants rather than change the law.
The test asks those taking it to rate how highly they agree with 48 statements including 'I am easily bored', 'I never go out of my way to visit museums', 'Most of my friends are more imaginative than I am', 'I am not very good at sensing what other people are feeling', 'I have not created anything of beauty in the last year', 'I rarely have a well thought out plan for what I want to do' and 'I have taken frequent stands in the face of strong opposition'.
The answers given then lead on to a set of five strengths which jobseekers are advised to use in their jobsearch and to discuss with their advisors.
There is concern that gathering information like this could lead to jobseekers being profiled by jobcentres, with some being identified as troublemakers or more likely to claim benefits fraudulently.
But according to blogger Skwawkbox the test questions are not always connected to the strengths; he sat the test but clicked 'next' to each question rather than making value judgements, and was still provided with five characteristics.
The government unit which set the tests appears to have responded to this; it is no longer possible to click through the questions without answering them.
However, the issue still remains; a neutral response to every question, i.e. neither agreeing nor disagreeing with any personality statement, tells the jobseeker that they have the following characteristics:
Complete below to find your strengths
Think about how you can use these strengths in your job search and in your life in general
Try to find a new way to use them then everyday
Strength 1. Curiosity
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
Strength 2. Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.
Strength 3. Critical Thinking
Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.
Strength 4. Originality
Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.
Strength 5. Social Intelligence
You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.
Fill in your email address address below to have your strengths emailed to you. You may want to discuss these with your advisor at your next meeting.'
A DWP spokesperson told The Guardian that the exercise was "intended to help jobseekers identify their strengths, and we have had extremely positive feedback from both jobseekers and their advisers – it is right that we use every tool we have to help jobseekers who want to work find a job".
He denied that any jobseeker would be stripped of benefits for refusing to complete the test, despite The Guardian quoting a jobseeker who had received a letter threatening this.