Unemployed claimants will be required to use a new government job search website and face benefit sanctions if it shows they are not trying to find work.

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has hailed the Universal Jobmatch scheme – which will operate in England, Scotland and Wales – as a brilliant revolution in the labour market. It has already started nationwide on a trial basis. The website was developed by the commercial job search firm Monster UK,.

scheme will operate in England, Scotland and Wales.Currently jJobcentres currently only require unemployed people to look for jobs three times a week, but that requirement is likely to increase now it will be considered easier to seek work.

So far, 370,000 companies and 690,000 jobseekers have signed up, and 425,000 jobseekers have already voluntarily given permission for their jobcentre adviser to access their profile, a way of increasing the advice they get on issues such as the preparation of CVs.

Duncan Smith said it would be mandatory for jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants to use the site from early in the new year, but no JSA claimant would be required to allow their jobcentre adviser to see any of their activity on the site.

The website can automatically alert jobseekers to appropriate vacancies in their area.

The service will not just be open to claimants, but also to those in work, a vital requirement for universal credit, the new integrated benefits system due to be launched in the autumn of next year.

Employers can log on to locate jobseekers in their area and obtain scores that take into account the jobseeker’s appropriate experience, distance of residence from workplace, skills, and willingness to relocate.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) work services director, Neil Couling, said: “This is the biggest game-changer in the labour market in 27 years. It changes jobseeking from a passive, slow process to one that is dynamic, fast and 24/7.”

Since last month’s launch of the scheme, 160m job searches have been made. The scheme is expected to manage more than 10,500 new vacancies and 1m-plus job searches each working day by next August, nearly 80% of the total DWP caseload.

There are no plans at present to require claimants on employment and support allowance to use the system, which will be available to those without a computer in libraries and jobcentres.

The Universal Jobmatch website has been criticised by some who fear it will be used as a means of identifying and sanctioning those not seeking work, or could lead to breaches of privacy. There are also claims that the scheme will be vulnerable to sabotage, as bogus jobs or jobseekers are put on the site.

Duncan Smith said only 6,000 jobs had been blocked off the site as inappropriate and 27 bogus employers removed since the launch of the scheme. He said the scheme would be especially helpful in industries with high labour turnover, such as care services.

Duncan Smith said the schemewould free jobcentre advisers to spend more time with jobseekers that needed intensive help.

The site has a dropdown menu requiring jobseekers to explain why they have not applied for a job and are offered a range of reasons including, “job does not match my interests; is not in my desired industry; does not match my skills; is below my salary requirements; is too far away from my home; have already applied for the job; does not interest me”.

Duncan Smith said: “Jobseekers will be able to turn down jobs, but if the adviser thinks they are pretty specious reasons, he may call you in and say, ‘We think you should be applying for these jobs’.”

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It’s been a seaside destination for Brits for 250 years and now, it seems, the rest of the world may sit up and take notice of Margate.

Why? Because it has just placed at seventh in the top 10 destinations in the world in the Rough Guide Travel Hot List for 2013.

Margate, in Kent, rubbed shoulders with stunning hotspots like Dubrovnik and Stockholm, even coming in higher than Puerto Rico.

According to the Daily Mail, a spokesman for Rough Guides said: “From the Turner Contemporary gallery to the proliferation of other indie art spaces, vintage shops and cute cafes in the Old Town, Margate now offers much more than its golden sands and dilapidated seaside charm.

“The gem on the Isle of Thanet constitutes one of the highlights of the forthcoming Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex and Surrey for many good reasons.”

And the deputy director at Turner Contemporary, Richard Morsley, echoed the statement, saying: “Visitors come for our exhibitions but also to experience the town, the beach, the boutique shops, cafes, Margate’s amazing history and of course our Turner sunsets.

“There is a fantastic feeling of change and momentum in Margate at the moment and we are all expecting another great year for the town.”

However, some locals dismissed it as rubbish, and said tourists would be “very, very disappointed” if they made the effort to visit from afar.

Richard Spires told the Daily Mail: “Margate is run down, half of the shops are closed or in the process of closing down, there are yobs on every corner and amusement arcades all over the place.

“It is not the kind of place you really want to live in, let alone go on holiday to.”

The Turner Contemporary Art Gallery has, however, certainly had a big part in turning the town’s fortunes around. According to the BBC, since the Queen opened it last year, it has received 750,000 visitors, a third of them making an overnight break of it,

The gallery’s director, Victoria Pomerey, told the BBC: “A lot has happened generally around regeneration, but culture has been the real driver for what’s happened here

Ali G makes a comeback, Ashley Roberts and Kimberly Wyatt on the red carpet and Jack Whitehall becomes the King of Comedy

 

Jack Whitehall looks like a gender reassigned barbie

Jack Whitehall looks like a gender reassigned barbie

There were plenty of LOLs last night at the British Comedy Awards and a festive sprinkle of controversy, too.

Ali G returned to collect a special award for Outstanding Achievement – more than a decade after he was named Best Newcomer at the event.

Obviously the brains behind the man from Staines, Sacha Baron Cohen, didn’t miss the opportunity for some edgy gags.

Making a reference to his gold outfit, he said: “A lot has changed in ten years, times are tough. I’ve even had to start getting my tracksuits from second hand clothes shops.”

Before turning around to reveal the word ‘Savile’ printed on the back.

Youthful comic Jack Whitehall was crowned King of Comedy at the Channel 4 bash.

Other winners include Charlie Brooker, named Best Comedy Entertainment Personality, and Harry Hill, whose TV Burp show was named the Best Comedy Entertainment Programme.

The award for Best Sitcom saw The Thick Of It, Rev and Twenty Twelve all lose out to Julia Davis’s SKY show Hunderby, which was also named Best New Comedy Programme.

The full list of winners follows:

Best Comedy Entertainment Personality – Charlie Brooker

Best Sitcom – Hunderby

Best Male TV Comic – Lee Mack

Best Comedy Entertainment Programme – Harry Hill’s TV Burp

Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist – Morgana Robinson

Best TV Comedy Actress – Rebecca Front

The Writers Guild of Great Britain – Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

Best TV Comedy Actor – Peter Capaldi

Best Female TV Comic – Jo Brand

Best Sketch Show – Cardinal Burns

Best New Comedy Programme – Hunderby

Outstanding Achievement – Sacha Baron Cohen.

google-map-logoThe new Google Maps application for the iPhone became the most downloaded free item in Apple‘s App Store on Thursday, just hours after its launch.

The long-awaited app launched in the early hours of Thursday morning, finally bringing relief to the millions of iPhone users forced to rely on Apple’s own much-maligned mapping system.

The popularity of Google Maps provided an insight into the unpopularity of Apple’s own attempt at providing a map service. Its launch came after Apple ditched its partnership with Google ahead of the launch of iOS6, the most recently launched operating system for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

“People around the world have been asking for Google Maps on iPhone,” wrote Daniel Graf, director of Google Maps for Mobile in a thinly veiled dig at Apple’s own geographical travails.

“Starting today, we’re pleased to announce that Google Maps is here – rolling out across the world in the Apple App Store. It’s designed from the ground up to combine the comprehensiveness and accuracy of Google Maps with an interface that makes finding what you’re looking for faster and easier.”

Early reviews of Google Maps were overwhelmingly positive. The New York Times described it as “free, fast and fantastic,” concluding that “Google Maps for iPhone is an astonishingly powerful, accurate, beautiful tool”.

The Next Web said the new tool was “pleasantly responsive and feature-rich,” although noted “a few rough spots that suggest it’s been rushed ahead to market”.

The early response to Google Maps is in stark contrast for the widespread despair provoked by Apple’s own attempt at building a mapping system.

Users reported that railway stations had been imagined, the Sears Tower in Chicago had been mislabelled, Paddington Station in London had ceased to exist and searches for ‘London’ directed UK iPhone users to the Canadian London in Ontario, rather than Britain’s teeming metropolis.

Google Maps had been an inbuilt part of the iOS operating system until this year’s update. Apple decided not to renew its licence with Google, reportedly frustrated that Google had refused to allow it access to its voice-directed turn-by-turn navigation and vector graphics for mapping.

 

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Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has suspended plans for production of the Jaguar C-X75 hybrid supercar, due to what it says is the current tough economic environment.

Describing its decision as coming after a “thorough re-assessment of near-term market conditions,” JLR said the economic landscape did not “currently” support the introduction of a supercar such as the C-X75.

Hybrid technologies, carbon composite materials and design solutions for the C-X75 in association with Williams Advanced Engineering, will be used in other areas of R&D, future products and next-generation engineering for the Jaguar and Land Rover brands, said the UK automaker.

Five C-X75 prototypes will be finalised and continue to undergo a programme of research and development evaluation and testing.

JLR and its project partners – especially Williams – will remain in consultation and are looking at ways to expand co-operation and technical development.

“Project C-X75 has already broken many new barriers in terms of innovation and advanced technologies,” said Jaguar global brand director, Adrian Hallmark.

“We have achieved an incredible amount and will continue to test and develop these technologies, which are highly relevant to JLR’s sustainable future.

“We remain committed to significant on-going new product investment –  GBP2bn (US$3.23bn) in this financial year – which will continue to drive the expansion of the JLR business.”

JLR added to just-auto it would not be making anyone further available for comment

school mealsCouncil leader says scheme is quickest way to raise educational standards while tackling problems of poor nutrition

One of Britain’s most economically deprived towns has announced ambitious long-term plans to provide free breakfast, milk and lunch to all its school pupils, amid concerns that rising numbers of its children are going hungry or failing to receive a healthy diet.

Blackpool, England’s sixth most impoverished local authority, is to launch a three-month pilot scheme in January that will provide a nutritious breakfast of fruit juice, cereal and toast, together with a mid-morning drink of milk, to all its 12,000 primary school pupils.

The scheme is potentially one of the boldest attempts yet to tackle what is seen by many as a deepening crisis of food poverty in the UK, particularly among low income families.

Almost a third of children in Blackpool live in poverty, and the council said it was concerned that many more from low-income working families “on the cusp” of free school food and milk were suffering nutritionally because working parents hit by the recession were unable to afford the cost.

If the £700,000 pilot is a success, the council hopes to adopt the scheme on a permanent basis at a cost of £2.1m a year, with a long-term aim of providing universal free lunches as well as widening participation to the town’s 7,500 secondary school pupils.

The leader of Labour-controlled Blackpool council, Simon Blackburn, said the scheme was the quickest and most cost-effective way to raise educational standards while tackling linked problems of poor nutrition and economic poverty. “Big problems call for bold solutions,” he said.

Blackburn admitted the scheme was hugely ambitious at a time when the council was having to make tens of millions of pounds of spending cuts, but dismissed suggestions the scheme should not be considered as a priority or that the council was wrong to foot the bill for poor parenting. “If we did not have to do this it would be great. Some parents should be feeding their kids, but they are not. That’s not the childrens’ fault. If local government is going to be relevant it has got to meet the challenges it actually faces.”

On his blog, Blackburn wrote: “A recent survey of schoolchildren suggests that some of our older pupils are more likely to have used alcohol or tobacco in the last week than they are to have eaten breakfast or had five portions of fruit and veg a day. For years, we have complained about this – but now is the time to actually do something about it.”

Just two or three English councils currently provide free school meals to all primary school pupils, while the Welsh government provides free school breakfast to nearly three quarters of its primary schools. It says the scheme has improved attendance, discipline, behaviour and concentration levels among pupils.

The Blackpool scheme comes as a survey by the Children’s Society charity found serious concerns among school staff about the levels of hunger among pupils. Almost three quarters of the teachers surveyed said they had seen pupils coming into school with no lunch and no way to pay for one.

The study, based on a survey of around 570 teachers, reveals nearly half (45%) said that children are often, or very often, hungry during the school day. Two-thirds (66%) of respondents reported that teachers were providing pupils with food or money for meals if they turn up for lessons hungry.

One teacher told the survey: “Last month I found two girls sat on the toilet floor sharing one’s packed lunch because the other girl had no lunch money.”

The report cites research saying a quarter of children entitled to free school lunches took packed lunches instead because they feared being stigmatised. But the survey found 40% of teachers believed that packed lunches were unhealthy.

One told the survey: “I have seen a child with a packet of Haribo sweets for his lunch – we had to arrange for the child to have a sandwich. This is not an isolated case.”

The survey broadly reflects the findings of a Guardian Teacher Network survey carried out in June for the Guardian’s Breadline Britain project, in which 83% of teachers said had seen pupils arrive at school hungry, and 55% said they took in food or fruit to give to children who had gone without breakfast.

The Children’s Society estimates that 1.2 million school age children in England are not getting free school meals – and 700,000 are not entitled to them. It calls for free school meals to be extended to all children in families receiving universal credit, a move it says would lift 100,000 youngsters out of poverty.

The shadow children’s minister Sharon Hodgson said: “This report is further worrying evidence of the impact that the Tory-led government is having on the most disadvantaged children, with family budgets stretched to breaking point and services like breakfast clubs cut back across the country.

“I welcome the fantastic work that a number of Labour councils like Blackpool are doing to combat hunger, but it is clear that this is a national issue.”

The government scrapped the last Labour administration’s plans to extend free school meals to all children below the poverty line back in 2010, putting the £110m earmarked for the scheme into a fund to raise pupil attainment in struggling schools.

Skyfall has become the most successful film in British box office history.

The 23rd official installment of the James Bond movie has so far earned a stunning £94.3million ($152million) according the producers of the blockbuster.

In just over 40 days, the film which stars Daniel Craig has outdone the efforts of the 2009 adventure film Avatar which in 11 months made £94.0million.

Although the figures do not take inflation into account, co-producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli revealed how proud they are of how well the 007 movie has done.
In a statement they said: ‘We are very proud of this film and thank everybody, especially Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes, who have contributed to its success’.

The motion picture which sees Bond and his spymaster M battle villain wizard Silva, played by Javier Bardem, received rave reviews when it was released in October.

Directed by Sam Mendes, the film bagged $870million in ticket sales around the world, according to movie tracking site Boxofficemojo.com.

Dave says –
I have to wonder when i read this type of news
Exactly what defines a british movie these days?
Is there a quota system in place ?
Or are half the production company actually Polish/ Nigerian etc ?

However globally, the spy movie is yet to match Avatar’s record ticket sales which satnds at $2.8billion.

And reports on the same website suggest that the James Cameron’s film ranks 14th in cinema history, with the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind in pole position.

In November it was reported that Daniel Craig is being paid over £31million to play the British spy in two more outings.

The deal makes Craig, 44, the best-paid Bond to date, even taking into account the effects of inflation on his predecessors’ paypackets.

It is a far leap from his first Bond role which saw him earn £1.9million in Casino Royale in 2006, and also the £4.4million he received for Quantum of Solace in 2008.

Craig received £10.7 million for Skyfall, which is more than the £7.5million paid to his predecessor Pierce Brosnan for The World Is Not Enough in 1999 and the £10.3million for Die Another Day in 2002.
The financial deal will see him placed near the top of Hollywood’s leading men – vying for position just below Tom Cruise and Leonardo DiCaprio.