Mac users are losing out on a government job-seekers’ Web site because “Macs are used by a very small percentage of the UK population”.
Despite the site’s trumpeted Customers' Charter – promising to "promote opportunity and independence for all" – the site’s job-search facility is incompatible with Internet Explorer for Mac, Safari, Konqueror, Netscape and Mozilla.
A key passage from these guidelines reads: "The aim is to be inclusive. It is essential that Web sites are designed to be open and not to disenfranchise sectors of the population."
Yet a DWP spokesperson said: "We have limited resources from the government, and therefore cannot aspire to make the site accessible to everyone. We have to make it accessible to the majority, and our research has indicated that Macs are used by a very small percentage of the UK population.
"We will try and make the site accessible to Macs, but it will be cost-prohibitive. In the meantime I advise anyone with a Mac to use the search facility at www.worktrain.com – it runs on the same database as Jobcentre Plus, so they will not be missing out on jobs, just the added functionality. Alternatively they can visit their local Job Centre."
There is, however, no suggestion on the Jobcentre Plus Website that Mac users should go elsewhere.
Liberal Democrat MP for Southport John Pugh, who has previously expressed concerns about government bias towards Microsoft, told Macworld: "This smacks of lazy thinking rather than sound technical argument. Why should unemployed people who own an extremely effective PC be disallowed access to a government website? This is contrary to the spirit of the recommendations of the e-envoy."
A Linux User contributing to a report on the UK governments egov project wrote: "The official Open Standards policy states that: "Government will only use products for interoperability that support open standards and specifications in all future IT developments", yet we see Microsoft-only libraries being used at the core of the Gateway’s interfaces. Not only does this give Microsoft-based developers unfair advantages in accessing a public system for their clients but it totally violates the government’s own policy."