Dissolved company advertising for professional charity fundraisers on government’s Universal Jobmatch website

  1. The sole director of a company dissolved March 2007 is advertising jobs in the name of, and for, his dissolved company on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website. The dissolved company didn’t even file any accounts at Companies House. The jobs are for paid charity fundraisers, but the ad doesn’t identify the charity or charities the professional fundraising “company” will allegedly be raising funds for. The person behind the ad said in an email that he no longer trades as the dissolved company. But he didn’t reply when asked why he was presenting himself as the company on Universal Jobmatch. Nor did the recruiter disclose on request the charity or charities. Clearly, Universal Jobmatch failed to do due diligence on the “company”. But it also failed to do due diligence on the charity claim. One way charities protect their reputation – and the public – is by not allowing use of their name without permission. Employers referring to charities on the government website should therefore be required to both name them and provide registered charity numbers. That way the legitimacy and credentials of an alleged professional fundraiser could be easily checked independently by contacting the charity or charities. Further, by law, there must be a written contract between charity and professional fundraiser.
  2. On 17 September 2015, the company Worthy Causes Limited was advertising jobs for paid charity fundraisers on the government’s Universal Jobmatch website (screen shot in Figure 1). One problem: the company was dissolved 27 March 2007, without even filing any accounts at Companies House (registered company number: 05424849). It had one director – Mark Laird. Applications for the jobs are via email to marklaird@hotmail.co.uk. “Please let me know what interests you about this position,” says Mr Laird in the ad.

    Figure 1. Charity Fundraiser job ad at 17 September 2015

    Figure 1. Charity Fundraiser job ad at 17 September 2015

  3. So I emailed to ask why he’s recruiting in the name of, and for, his dissolved company (18 September 2015). In the same-day reply, Mr Laird wrote: “Yes you are right, I no longer trade as Worthy Causes Ltd. I now sole trade as Worthy Causes. Any problems with that give me a call.” (He gave a mobile phone number.) I then sent another email, also 18 September 2015, asking: if he sole-trades as Worthy Causes, why is he presenting himself as a private limited company, Worthy Causes Limited, on Universal Jobmatch? There I also requested he tell me the charity or charities he’ll allegedly be raising funds for. But at date of publication Mr Laird hasn’t responded to the second email or a follow-up.
  4. Launched in 2012, Universal Jobmatch was last year found to be carrying a series of fake, repeat or fraudulent jobs ads. The issue came to prominence after separate investigations by Channel 4 News (http://www.channel4.com/news/universal-jobmatch-bogus-misleading-ads-nao) and the Labour MP Frank Field – see this March 2014 report in The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/mar/16/dwp-jobs-website-universal-jobsmatch. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) told the newspaper then that it regularly monitors Universal Jobmatch to remove jobs and/or ads not meeting the site’s terms and conditions. Yet a year and a half later, the government website is still failing to carry out simple checks that could have prevented Mr Laird’s ad appearing – and persisting – in its current form.
  5. There is at least some good news on Universal Jobmatch and public protection. DWP has finally realised that it might not be a good idea to allow employers to advertise anonymously. How can job-seekers – or anyone else – check the legitimacy and credentials of an anonymous employer? Previously it had permitted companies to withhold their name, as I was surprised to discover with ads from Targeted Management Limited of Blackpool: see para 11 in my 11 August 2015 post on that company. But in July, DWP told me in an email that as of 27 June 2015 employers would no longer have the option to keep their name confidential when posting new jobs. Hurrah. But why was it possible in the first place? And why did it take DWP so long to rectify?
  6. Universal Jobmatch urgently needs to improve its processes around professional fundraisers and any other employers making claims about charities. For a start, these ads must both name the charities and provide registered charity numbers. The deficiencies in the ad for paid charity fundraisers indicate that the government website remains wide open to actual and potential abuse. It’s bad enough that job-seekers are put at risk. Yet this could affect us all. Universal Jobmatch must also help protect the wider public from charity scams by making it much harder – if not impossible – for actual and potential charity scammers to recruit via the site.



Letter in the Daily Telegraph on how easy it is for small charities to avoid scrutiny

  1. On 9 September 2015, I had a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on how easy it is for small charities to avoid scrutiny. Charity fraud and abuse extend beyond fundraising.
  2. It’s available on the newspaper’s website: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/11851352/Letters-By-killing-terrorists-in-Syria-David-Cameron-protected-British-citizens.html.