• 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

Jobcentre Plus

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?

  1. It must be awful to work for the DWP. The moral of their staff must be at an all time low. The DWP is not only failing it’s clients, it is failing it’s staff. Shame on them.

  2. can confirm performance improvement plans are being used against staff if not enough sanctions are referred even when the advisor is performing exceptionally well in getting people in to work. the more people who are placed in work the less chance of a sanction but this is not accepted as mitigation against failing the invisible sanction target.

  3. the jobcentre staff do as they are told because they know the alternative is to be on the receiving end of sanctions as a claimant!!

  4. Are none of these job centre staff represented by a union who would be prepared to fight against this regime of bullying and intimidation? I can understand individuals being scared for themselves but shocked that so there seems to be no collective revolt against this. Or perhaps the majority are truly without compassion…

  5. Nobody is safe from sanctions it is disgusting the way people are treated I have been on the receiving end of a sanction I received a 3 month sanction 4 days after a job interview because I “wasnt actively seeking employment” luckily I have a job now and dont have to deal with them now but there are a lot of unempliyed dreading going there incase they receive a sanction

  6. I’m actually not surprised at this, one adviser had broken her toe, she was too frightened to take the time off to heal her foot so she still attended work because she was worried she would be penalised.
    I think their fear of being out of work, is the treatment they dish out to claimants, they wouldn’t like for themselves.

  7. A photo/evidence would be good; as someone who was put on a sanction for very little last November, I would be entirely unsurprised if this was true.

  8. “Why haven’t you published the photo of the scoreboard?”

    Because the person who took it perhaps doesn’t fancy becoming a customer?

  9. Didn’t a job centre employee hang himself in the job centre staff toilet last year? That was definetly an article last year.

  10. Not true !!
    I work in a jobcentre and not as a manager
    We are measured on our performance of getting claimants into work not on sanctions
    And there are no boards with shiny stickers on

  11. Michelle Davies says:

    My Daughter was sanctioned for nearly twelve months because of a blunder made by the Jobcentre themselves. It all makes sense now, why they left her so long without payments.

  12. Ex DWP Employee says:

    I worked at DWP Jobcentre for years and know how this works.
    Yes – there are targets
    Yes – you have to meet the targets there are consequences
    Yes- if you don’t hit the targets it affects your salary
    Yes- Jobcentre Staff don’t like imposing sanctions
    Yes- Managers too are rewarded handsomely for Staff hitting the targets
    Yes- if people aren’t actively seeking employment they get sanctioned (but they deserve it.)

  13. I’m afraid I have to be skeptical on this….
    Although the idea and concept is highly plausible for the current administration, (and if true, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me), the article gives no tangible proof that this is based on anything other than, at best uncorroborated anecdotal evidence, or, at worst deliberate mis-information based on fabricated evidence.
    At no point in any of those “email excerpts” is the word “sanctions” even mentioned.
    The “alleged” photo is not provided – I’m sure it could be posted with complete anonymity to the person that originally took it.
    While I certainly do not condone the actions of the current government, I think that trying to undermine them with anything other than definite fact is counter-productive.

  14. By the number of people leaving anon as their name it seems this country is turning increasingly totalitarian. If we don’t rebel soon we’re done for.
    I don’t see how people who miss their appointment through illness ‘deserve it’.

  15. I have never been so disgusted hearing the way DWP are treating people I myself have 4 children to working 2 currently unemployed the two unemployed are desperate to get a job and are continually pulled down and ridiculed for not doing enough to find work and are expected to spend 4 hours on a computer looking for work what if they dont have a computer and with local library’s closing some find it difficult as computer use can be checked on by the dwp but putting cv, s in places is not exepted as looking for work so they get sanctioned so no winning what happens

  16. 800,000 Benefit Sanctions? This is barbarism. At least 1/3 claimants are on sanctions at any one time.
    The Govt/DWP claim these are only imposed as a last resort. LIE.
    Reasons/cases include A Mum comes home to find the landlord evicting her Children. Her Housing Benefit hasn’t been sorted and she is in arrears. While dealing with this she misses a JC Appointment SANCTIONED

    A man who is deaf & without speech is sent to his JC to find work, The JC are not geared up to deal with his disability…………. he is SANCTIONED for failing to co-operate with JC staff.

    A woman gets a Job Interview which clashes with her JC Appointment. She goes to the Interview and is SANCTIONED for missing her JC Appointment. No doubt had she gone to her JC Appointment she would have been SANCTIONED foor misssing her Job Interview.

    People are SANCTIONED for the heinious crime of being 5 mins. late for a JC Appointment. If the JC are running late and keep you waiting 5mins for your appointmrent do they double your money? No, I thought not.

    People are sanctioned for not job-seeking on line even if they don’t have a Computer, know how to use one or have access to one. This is Neo-Victorian Class War. Cameron says cutting benefits aqnd rolling back the state is “morally improving” and trots out tripe about Samuel Smiles.

    YES there are “league tables” for sanctions and JC Managers want to get their JC “up the league”
    and some people are just too eager to please Management. In this world it is not enough to do your job, or do it well, you have to do it while jumping up and down in front of Management shouting “Look At Me”. Today its the Sociopaths who succeed regardless of who gets hurt.

    THE BIGGEST, DIRTIEST, UGLIEST MOST HARMFUL LIE OF ALL IS from the DWP and Ian Duncan Smith a lying, shouting ex-army bully. The Lie THERE ARE NO TARGETS.

    There cannot be an “official” and an “unofficial” policy running side by side.
    We Demand JCs drop all disciplinarys against JC workers for not issuning “enough” sanctions.
    Any such warnings and disciplinaries should be wiped from their records and anyone sacked on these grounds in the past 2 years should be given their jobs back,

  17. @Badger:

    Although the idea and concept is highly plausible for the current administration, (and if true, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me), the article gives no tangible proof that this is based on anything other than, at best uncorroborated anecdotal evidence, or, at worst deliberate mis-information based on fabricated evidence.

    These are direct quotes from emails from DWP staff, which tally with Guardian coverage and exchanges in DWP select committee (both are linked in the piece). This blog didn’t get to where it is now by making stuff up.

    At no point in any of those “email excerpts” is the word “sanctions” even mentioned.
    The “alleged” photo is not provided – I’m sure it could be posted with complete anonymity to the person that originally took it.

    The photo isn’t provided because it would f*ck the original source. The emails were pared down to the most relevant, punchy quotes but if you want a fuller example here you go:

    I have had my monthly review today at 12:00. I was highly praised because for the month of…… I have the highest off flows in the office, and my Manager ………..has put me forward for RR, I was also praised because of the high amount of RE I had done. My Manager is proposing that I should be recognised as an exceptional Advisor.

    However, during the review my Manager went on to discuss SBR with me and said that I should be sending on average 4% of my caseload up for ASE, I have increased my ASE from on average 3 per month to 8 in the month of August (overall with the RE it was a total of 15 SBR). During the conversation she explained that this is a Personal Improvement Plan and she would write it up later. I then realised that I was being told I was having a PIP done on me.

    We also didn’t run these quotes in full because they’re acronym gobbledegook:
    ‘Off flows’ = people into work
    RR = ?
    RE = Refusing Employment
    SBR = Stricter Benefits Regime
    ASE = Actively Seeking Employment
    PIP = Personal Improvement Plan (being on performance review)

  18. I was waiting for a esa appt. I heard my advisor boasting that she had 2 sanctions that morning. That was before 11am.I was also told by an dwp advisor to attend all work programme appts as they are happy to sanction.

  19. My partner ( who is my full time carer due to my illnes and injuries) was put on jobseekers after my E.S.A was wrongly took away and was sanctioned after missing his apointment because at the time he was protecting a 9 month old baby who was on the child protection list after the child was brought to him wearing nothing but a vest in the freezing cold and rain after the mother physically assaulted her, he informed the police that he had the child and was waiting for the childs social worker to arive to pick up the baby, he appeal there disision with full back up from the social worker and 6 months on he still hasent heard a disision despite constently phoning weekly, whill he was sanctioned for 6 weeks we were left living on nothing and had to reliy on food banks wich could only provide food for three days wich left my partner myself and 3 small childern desalet and I myself had to go for days at a time with no food as my partner is diabetic type 1 and my children needed to eat… dispite all this I myself am on morphine after been left needing a mager oparation on my sholder after an injury at work (of wich I didnt recive no compansation do to illigal practeses maid by manigment) I was on incapacity befor it changed but was taken of after atos “medical services” who are hired by the jobcenter declared me fit for work dispit my sholder dislocating in her hands on the first test, she then refused to compleat all the other tests jue to this but past me by calling it a miscellaneous problem and awarded me with no points, it then took me 6 months to then get put back on to what is now the E.S.A all of wich me my partner and my children was left to live on nothing and in turn nearly lost are home to and lived in constent fear of loosing my children to all to be told in the end oww we shouldnt of took you off it in the first place, the system is a total messed and its distroying lives but the govermant dont care because it dosent afect them, they say they stand for the working class yet at the time I had 3 jobs all at the time of my accident all and off wich I lost, at the end of the day the rich get richer and the poor get poorer In this country and god forbid somthing happens to you because there isnt going to be anyone there for you when you fall, i bowe my head in shame of England, theres nothing hear to be proud of any more, 🙁

  20. Ex-JCP Dolescum says:

    Nic is talking rubbish. Jobcentre staff are not measured on getting people back into work because unless the job referral came from the Jobcentre it is impossible to measure individually. Sanction referrals *are* measured and staff *do* have targets to aim for. But I guess you all know that anyway.

    I actually think sanctions are necessary, unfortunately. Given the chance, many more people would take the mickey. However, the sanction timeframes currently in place are far too harsh – four weeks for missing an appointment (whether genuine or not) is ridiculous, it’s instant penury. Bring it back to how it used to be:

    First offence – either one day or one week, depending on severity of “offence”
    Second – One week or two weeks, as above
    Third – Three months

    And, above all, Jobcentre staff – USE SOME BLOODY COMMON SENSE. when making or assessing these sanctions! But they increasingly don’t, *because* of their own targets.

    As an aside, my ex-manager was investigated in making up figures (which meant my JCP got quite a few bonuses of quite a few pounds, nevermind what she was probably pocketing as well – remember folks, this is tax payers money) and suspended from work. I found out last week she’s back in her job at the JCP. She is someone who once laughed to me “I lie to people every day. That’s my job”.

  21. Ex-JCP Dolescum says:

    Third offence should read ‘one month’ – where’s the edit facility?!!? *ahem*

    I must add the vast majority of horror stories I’ve read about people being sanctioned would never have happened at my JCP while I was there (I was on a fixed-term appointment that ended in 2011 and I haven’t worked since.) However, I do know things have considerably tightened up since then – I do hope my JCP hasn’t gone down such a draconian and evil route, or at least some of the (mainly spineless) workers have put their foot down. But then, they’re all worried about their jobs as I can’t see jobcentres being around for much longer if the Tories get a second term, and the replacement will be MUCH worse.

  22. She has confirmed about the targets and now hates her job. Says it is the younger recruits who are the hardest on people as this is how they have been trained.

  23. why are we letting this go on they are killing people you are not nice to any body the gov needs to grow up the way they ran people down they are like kids tell then this “GROW UP YOU ARE LIKE CHILDREN STOP RUNNING PEOPLE DOWN I DONT KNOW HOW YOU CAN LIVE WITH YOUR SELF ” i hate you lot so much i need to talk that little shit david and his shitty gov
    i need my say

  24. When we see David Cameron in parliament saying unemployment down and what a good job Ian Duncan smith and ester Mc vee are doing. Well this is just the start of the deception for one thing Ian Duncan smith was slaughtered! By Andrew Neil on Sunday politics on everything he said! The true picture is Cameron and his cronies are determined to frighten people away from job centres” so the figures look better. They have turned the job centre staff into brainwashed robots.

  25. I have worked for DWP and they do not have no such thing as targets and the article is miss-placed.
    They do however expect people to actively seek work and if they don’t to sanction them. As a tax payer i think this is the right action to take, and if there are lots of sanctions it can only be because they are not looking for work like they should be. JSA/UC is a bridge benefit for people out of work, not people who are work shy.

  26. I don’t actually care to debate and scratch around searching for evidence of the incriminating gold stars.
    It really is the bigger picture people should be aiming their attentions.
    Good thing is that all the incriminating evidence is there for us all to look up at anytime.
    The reason for these sanctions being in place is directly related to the financial prolapse of 2008. The money which has been taken from the poorest and most vulnerable due to austerity measures turns out to be an intended plan. The intent and successful result of the plan is TO ENHANCE THE WEALTH OF THE ULTRA WEALTHY.
    This is why they want to leave you and your babies without food, dignity, electricity….
    This is why jobcentre staff are being pressured into behaving in the atrocious manner so many people will be familiar with.
    Although I would rather be on the most lengthiest sanction they got to give than sit at a JCP desk creating misery for the miserable.

    If you reckon I sound like a nut job conspiracy theorist – please – take a moment and look it up.

    This insane system we live our precious lives around will soon take away the pleasure of life itself.

    Peace xxxx

  27. was in job centre today was told if I did not abide by the rules I would be sanctioned I told them I walk the estates handing out cvs to companys there reply was I was not soposed to do that I have to look on line after a long dissussion I was told next time there take my money away my reply if that happens I will mug old women and mabe 1 might be her mother or even rob her house FUCKING RICH GETTING RICHER and hard working people get robbed mabe the jobcentre staff get A bonus for stopping peoples money WELL WE HAVE TO KEEP MR FUCKING CAMERON HAPPY THE THING THAT PUTS A SMILE ON HIS FACE IS WHEN MR IAN DUNCAN SMITH GIVES HIM A BLOWJOB

  28. I was sanctioned for actively job hunting, all because I had not received a email back from any of the jobs that I applied fromantic the job centre website,so I refused to use the website, they dictate to you where you have to apply, how you have to apply and how many jobs you have got to apply for

  29. At the job centre I worked in they certainly did have targets we had weekly meetings and orders given to ‘get’ at least 6 sanctions a week. I was going to record it on my phone but found it difficult surrounded by managers clique. Needless to say I never sanctioned anyone they needed help not punishment .The ‘I’m okay jack ‘ attitude of the manager and her posse was shocking. I could have made brilliant TV programme out of what went on there. I had to leave as I couldn’t work with the two faced hypocrites any more .

  30. Jayne Brown I admire you for sticking to your principles.

    If DWP staff are upset about giving sanctions, why don’t they start working to rule?

  31. I am grateful of this forum as it has claimed me down as I have just had the most humiliating and degrading ‘talking to’ by a JC staff whilst I was signing on.
    I can’t help it but as an educated, literate and skilled person of course I want to work! I’ve been looking and this morning I told him I’ve got a job. Instead of any Human response he grilled me for not evidencing my job search. He didn’t listen or punch in to the computer my long lost of search engines-emails etc…because I had to do it there way. I’ve never loathed someone so much I don’t know how people can work there doing that to people. I’ve been offered an excellent job – was he jealous? Anyway I think I’m having to sit on the naughty step and get sanctioned because they have been in theory asking me to work for 50p an hour… The thing is I can say the majority of people do want to work and when your knocked for six because you’re unemployed the last thing we need is patronising, bullying, smarmy, conceited staff telling us off. If I was in a depression through this I would have contemplated suicide.

  32. Killuminati877 says:

    I’ve had 144 pound to last 12 weeks when I tryed to make a complaint no one would help , someone should start a petition on change.org

  33. I don’t know about targets but there have been many confirmed stories in the press and problems friends have experienced that prove there is something wrong with the system.

    If a job interview clashes with an appointment why should you be sanctioned if you ring the office beforehand and take your interview letter/e mail as confirmation?

    People do get ill but there is no allowance for this. Perhaps it needs a few people to still attend with whatever they have and share it with the staff.

    Someone I know finished a job on the Friday and when he went on the Monday to find out what he needed to do having always worked, they wanted to know what action he had taken to find a job over the wekend or they would only list him as unemployed from the Monday.

    Every one wants the workshy to be encouraged to find work but the reality is that in many areas there are still not enough jobs and with the retirement age being extended the number of jobs is set to reduce further

  34. More evidence of the Slimy, Devious B****** who govern us taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable. Get the The Slimy, Devious B****** out!

  35. Asolutely disgusting. My Mum has been sanctioned many times for apparently not being active in looking for work,She is not fit for work due to mental illness and for anyone that talks to her this will quickly become apparent. Unfortunately due to her illness getting her to go through right channels to get esa has proved difficult . They don’t care though your just a number.

  36. Allan Carter says:

    I an Duncan Smith has gone yet the policy of his making remains and this will not change, The last time in human history were the sick/disabled/mentally ill were treated worse was back in 1930’s Germany.
    Will it come to pass that the above will be required to have a tattoo emblazoned on the forehead ? or a star sewn on the persons lapel if they go out in public ?, sounds extreme yet this is how things start then reach a point were the public accepts this as in 1930’s Germany.
    I have looked into what the government pay out in JSA and income based JSA and ESA and this is very small as the main payment of around 89% is to pensions,
    With all the above going on I then looked at who is making money from this misery and I found this was private landlords but when i say that i mean large company landlords like Joemast and many others who trouser millions of pounds per week in housing benefit and asylum contracts and turning homes into B+B to reap more rewards from the poor

  37. dominici bouyer mirand says:

    7000 new jobs created from 1-4-16 thats seven thousand new jobs all created by the conservative party, good going so why complain . so in just a few days our economy has seven thousand new jobs.


    And yet you all know this to be true and yet English people simply take it day in and day out….pity as we thought you British had some backbone as in France we will be bringing down the government if they treated us like this.

  38. I am a good law abiding, kind, lady of 58, and I was sanctioned after missing a couple of meetings at the job centre due to stress related illness and I suffer depression, anxiety and sometimes acute fatigue due to diabetes. I am 58 and have no qualifications They sanctioned me for 3 months and i couldn’t pay rent so stayed in my sons nice, but barely adequate music/guest room. 20 foot by 10′ approx for four months. I was lucky to have family, but it’s disgusting to sanction ANYONE so severely just for missing appointments or ‘not searching enough,’ ( in their eyes anyway) Ive got a nice job coach but still get threats of sanctions. Its worrying ! I’m thinking of writng to an MP but I doubt I’d get anywhere with the bigwigs that make rules from their ivory towers where hardships don’t touch them. They need to use the services before they can understand the devastating Impact these rules can have on someone’s life.
    Ps I had to sell my car so it will be even harder to travel!

  39. Oh yes you can’t have the same sickness twice either.? What is that all about? Surely there are hundreds of illnesses that can subside and then flare up. The most stupid question I’ve been asked on the phone to the centre was “How long do you think you will be ill for??”
    Say what??? Hang on just let me get my crystal ball. Lol
    And why so many security questions when you’ve phoned many many times before and are a legal Citizen of England. It’s ten minutes at the very least to just change an appointment. IF YOU DARE that is.

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