A former employee of three separate Work Programme providers describes how staff members were compelled to increase sanctions in order to hit financial targets.
From 2011, at the dawn of the Work Programme, to 2014, I worked on three separate Work Programme provider contracts. At some point during each of these I, with my then colleagues, was approached by various levels of management and told in no uncertain terms to increase the number of sanctions raised on our clients.
Different justifications were given for this demand, but the implication was always the same – get the dead wood off our books so we can concentrate on the job-ready customers and hit our targets. Fortunately, I was clued-up enough to resist these attempts at coercion through a proper knowledge of the legal foundations underpinning the Work Programme, but many didn't, and, at threat of receiving a disciplinary and/or losing their jobs, complied.
If the general public could hand out medals, I'd have a chestful by now. As soon as I mention that I used to be an employment adviser on the government's Work Programme, they seem to feel I deserve one for dealing with the Stella-swigging, Sun-reading, swearing and spitting media-fuelled image they have of the typical participant. Of course, I'm always quick to point out that there's no such thing as a typical participant (I had two barristers on my case load for example) and often make a point of telling them I actually really enjoyed working with my clients – it was the system itself that I had issues with