- DWP denies there are targets for punishing claimants
- But office awarded ‘gold stars’ for imposing sanctions
- Other Jobcentres have ‘league tables’ on the wall
- Staff who don’t meet targets placed on review
DWP’s denials that it uses targets to force Jobcentre staff to sanction benefits claimants is struck yet another blow this evening — with Scrapbook having seen photographic evidence of a ‘scoreboard’ where the staff record the number of sanctions they have made using shiny gold stars.
The department’s work services director, Neil Couling, told the DWP select committee last March:
“We do track sanctions. We are quite keen to avoid any misunderstandings that there are targets attached to these”
But this claim was undermined in December when reports emerged that Jobcentre staff had been placed on performance review for not issuing enough sanctions. Scrapbook can now publish excerpts from emails from Jobcentre managers and staff.
Having placed one of their highest performing members of staff on review, a manager threatens them with further action if they don’t sanction more claimants:
“I confirmed I am treating this as an informal dip in performance but if you do not meet the expectation by the 4 week review I will have no option but to enter the formal capability process.”
Another manager listed sanctions as one area where a staff member should “improve her performance” before adding:
“I did discuss that if improvements are not made, it could result in formal action being taken”
Here a manager themselves is placed on review for failing to punish staff for a low number of sanctions:
“As there were no targets, I cannot quantify what is enough but to my mind things are moving in the right direction. She verbally stated at that [performance meeting] that this will now form part of an improvement plan.”
But perhaps the most damning evidence comes in a sanctions performance chart filled with shiny stickers, above which is written:
“As an office we should be looking to make 8 refs to [decision makers] a day”
No sanctions targets, eh?