Saturday, 9 January 2016

Best Wishes from Working Links

Many thanks to the colleague for sending me that upbeat New Year message from Phil Andrew, Chief Executive, Working Links. Lovely to see them expanding into Saudi Arabia! Here it is in full, together with a local Napo response:-

Welcome back! 

Let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year. 

I hope you’ve had a restful, enjoyable Christmas and you’re ready for 2016 which promises to be another important year for us. 

And if last year was anything to go by I know how well you will respond to the challenge to continue to make the future a success. 

It’s fair to say 2015 was a significant year for Working Links. On the 1 April we celebrated our 15th anniversary, taking stock of our achievements and evaluating how far we’ve come in a relatively short space of time. We then set about looking towards what we can accomplish in the next 15 years. 

It was a year of enormous change, as we welcomed our colleagues in justice following the completion of the Transforming Rehabilitation share sale – which allowed us to take ownership of three Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire; and Wales. 

This is crucial to our ambition of broadening our support to a much wider proportion of society and helping a million people to progress their lives in some meaningful way. 

Given our success, and in line with our strategic plan, we began working on a transformation and integration programme to look at how we can integrate different parts of the business and continue to grow our organisation in a way that ensures we remain efficient and flexible. And this will remain our big focus in 2016. 

We’ve been busy creating one end-to-end social intervention model, which means we’re going to be much more closely integrated between employability and justice, and we’re going to be much more integrated between front line and support services, operating in shared environments. That creates huge opportunities for us but it needs to be very carefully managed and we need everyone to contribute to make it a success. 

The company also grew organically. It started way back in January when we won Every Day, or ‘Bob Dydd’ in Welsh, a small Jobcentre Plus (JCP) contract open to jobseekers in Swansea who have completed their allotted time on the Work Programme and returned to JCP. This was followed by winning the Flexible Support Fund (FSF) in Wales, to deliver employment support to the over 50s in South East Wales, TESS, a 20-week voluntary programme for JCP customers funded by the FSF, and an ESA contract, helping to support ESA customers into sustainable employment. 

We brought one of our Work Programme sub-contracts in house in Scotland – from PeoplePlus (formerly A4e) – and our five Work Choice contracts were extended for 18 months. 

We saw major expansion internationally – something I’m really proud of. We launched Turas Nua to deliver the JobPath programme. Turas Nua sees us employing the best part of 450 people, open 37 new offices across Ireland and provide the long-term unemployed in Ireland their first opportunity to get targeted detailed assistance to help them get into employment. And so far it’s going really, really well. Another major growth area for us has been our international business in the Middle East. We’re doing some pioneering work with our partners in Kuwait and that’s working very well.

In Saudi Arabia, we’ve gone from being one of the smallest providers in the Kingdom to now having an established team of over 20 people out there providing operational consultancy services to government funded organisations. Our work in Saudi is producing a whole new business stream for us that is developing quickly, which is a tremendously exciting phase for us as we go into 2016 and beyond. 

We gained some important accreditations and awards over the last 12 months, including Investors in Diversity, and we successfully maintained our ISO 27001:2013 accreditation following an audit on information security and compliance with the standard. 

I’m really pleased James Bamford, one of our Senior Probation Officers was presented with a prestigious Butler Trust Award by the Butler Trust’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal and BGSW CRC and ss Great Britain won the Partnership award at the Redemption and Justice Awards. 

And we developed some key partnerships – notably with Innovation Wessex to help us to deliver Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) across the three CRCs. 

Sadly, we also saw some of our contracts come to an end after a very successful term. The Enterprise Coaching programme ended after five years, having helped more than 300 businesses start up in Plymouth. European Social Fund (ESF) Family Support came to an end, having helped more than 8,000 families across the East Midlands. Our Greater London Authority (GLA) SWITCH Direction programme ended having helped young people with convictions to find education, training or employment opportunities on release from prison. Moving On finished after five years which improved the employment prospects of people with convictions in London, both in custody and in the community. And after three successful years we ended our management of Bad Boys’ Bakery – the social enterprise inside HM Prison Brixton made famous by Gordon Ramsey, which helps people with convictions to improve their skills to enable them to reintegrate into society and employment on release. 

Whilst 2015 was a year of mobilisation and stabilisation, it’s very important that we don’t forget that we need to grow our business really quickly from 2016 onwards and therefore a big focus of this year will be on our business development. 

We’ve got some really exciting bids coming up. We have the European Social Fund (ESF) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) contracts – and we’re very excited about those. The business development team are working hard to design new programmes which meet the needs of our funders. 

We also now know more about the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) replacement for Work Programme and Work Choice. This will be called the Work and Health Programme and, whilst smaller in funding than Work Programme, it goes to the heart of our skills to help the hardest to help which will also include those out of work for more than two years. 

To prepare for this, in England we’re continuing our programme of stakeholder engagement; and our team in Wales have been busy building relationships with Welsh politicians, government ministers and senior civil servants to ensure that we are best placed should the Welsh government play an active role in co-commissioning the programme. 

In Scotland it’s slightly different as responsibility for what replaces Work Programme is being devolved to the Scottish government. We’ve been working very closely with our colleagues at the Scottish government over the last two years to bring our experience and expertise to the policy and programmes design processes. 

We want to further expand our work in the justice arena over the next year too. We’re looking at working in partnership with organisations to provide resettlement services as part of the government’s major new prison reform programme – which includes plans to build nine new prisons. One of these prisons is in Wrexham, North Wales, and we are already having very positive discussions with NOMS in Wales about this. This will provide us with an excellent platform to showcase our innovation and expertise in through the gate services.

A key part of our business development strategy going forward is to expand our footprint across the UK. We have opportunities in London, the Midlands, the North East and a variety of other places where we think we can create some really innovative work with some of the partners we’re talking to at the moment to make a step change to really finding a way to help people progress in life, whatever that means for that individual. 

In 2015 we helped as many people or more than we expected to and that’s a fantastic position to be in. Last year you continued to change lives: we put nearly 14,500 people back into work, supported a further 26,000 to make changes, and on average, had just under 18,500 service users a month accessing our services as part of their rehabilitation journey.

And there is much on the horizon in 2016. There will be challenges ahead, but ultimately I know we will continue to focus on our customers and service users to help them progress towards a more positive future. My challenge to you is, how many more people’s lives can we collectively change in the next year? 

Happy New Year 
Phil Andrew, Chief Executive

Dear Members,

Another e mail on your first day back from the holidays my apologies. As we gear up for the continued difficulties that we all face together, whatever, your role or grade.

Working Links the Company in their planned proposals for hubs and relocations of essential service provisions have still not released any of the material details on how they are to float the service design. We are a little surprised therefore, to read what I think is the first all staff bulletin from Mr Andrews. Talking up Working links the company and references to international and European activity. Whilst this may be interesting to some, what your Unions are actively doing is looking to ensure their planned jobs cuts are not a ruse to funnelling away monies on other business ventures from your real jobs which would be at members and taxpayers expense.

Napo local reps recent experiences have not been good and the current state of some aspects of the management's process has made things difficult. It is nothing that we are not recording and will be used in due course but getting any reliable information is not helped when you read a briefing like this and not one word to our members on the situation that Mr Andrews operating team have planned our membership dismissals.

It may be a new style or management, up-beat on commentary but absent of critical issues does nothing to inspire good prospects and a safe working future in an organisation that needs the full staff backing and future commitment.

In the meantime, as we look more carefully at what will no doubt become a continued propaganda exercise, if todays release is anything to go by. Napo is working for you, our members for potential events to come. Working Links The company continue to advance their plans and we shall continue to ensure we challenge and take all necessary actions to protect you. On record there are to be not cuts to PO grade staff and so some can take stock in that but that does not mean to say pay roles and duties will not be changed and so your concerns will continue.

We expect this will worry all members to some degree, for further information please get in touch or send us some questions. All members will be facing uncertainties this year and so solidarity in numbers approach and collective thinking will help.

In that spirit the branch will be organising grade and team location meetings for all members to survey and canvas views and inform you of what NAPO will be doing and asking for you to protect your interest. Look out for the dates for branches and special office based meetings. Some of which the National General Secretary Ian Lawrence will attend as will Mike National Napo official.


Dino Peros Branch Chair JNCC Napo Rep


Some may ask 'who is Phil Andrew?'
From Working Links website:-

Phil Andrew

Working Links is pleased to announce the appointment of a new Chief Executive.

Phil Andrew is to join the organisation in April from Sodexo UK & Ireland, where he is currently Chief Financial Officer.

Phil joins Working Links with a wealth of experience contracting with government in the UK and overseas, having more than 20 years’ experience in operational and finance roles. As well as his current role, he has held a number of positions in the UK and France, including Managing Director of Sodexo Justice Services, which runs rehabilitation and custodial services.

Phil worked in a number of international businesses based in the UK, Ireland, Asia and Russia. Phil is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Marketer and qualified treasurer.

On his appointment, Phil said: “I am extremely excited to be joining Working Links. Making a social difference is a key motivation for me so I am very pleased to be joining a company with such a strong social purpose. I am looking forward to bringing my operational and commercial experience into Working Links at such a key point in the development of the market.”

Commenting on his appointment, Chairman Millie Banerjee said: “I am delighted to announce Phil as our new Chief Executive. Phil brings a wealth of expertise and experience to Working Links and I look forward to working together to help us move more people away from social exclusion."


  1. Question: "My challenge to you is, how many more people’s lives can we collectively change in the next year?"

    Answer: All your shareholders that will profit from your business holdings. All the probation workers that that'll no longer have jobs because of the cuts you're planning in your Community Rehabilitation Companies. All the members of the public that'll be victims of crime because you cut rehabilitation services and could no longer properly supervise offenders.

  2. Perhaps Phil could ask his ex colleagues in Sodemexo if the rumours are true that at least two CRC in the North are at risk of being assessed as being economically unviable at the end of this financial year which would lead to further remedial action being taken?

  3. Will WLs awarded SPO stiill have his job in a few months time if Phil has his way?

  4. Given it's (alleged) track record I can see why Working Links have employed a financial expert as its CEO.

    "In May 2011 a former auditor of Working Links claimed that the level of fraud at Working Links escalated to "a farcical situation" and was "endemic" but that he faced a "stonewall" from managers. Mr Hutchinson said he had encountered "a multi-billion-pound scandal", after working for Working Links and A4e in the welfare-to-work industry.[7] Working Links said: "We firmly reject any assertion of widespread fraud within our business." (Wikipedia)

  5. 'Lying, thieving bastards' – LTB for short. No, not Phil Andrew and his inner circle, but, according to a media report, a typical term of endearment to describe disabled clients in a work programme operated by one of Working Link's sub-contractors.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with the acronym, it was merely misapplied and will be a useful shorthand the next time we read about fraud convictions.

    Maybe when Phil gets a moment he can tell us what the benefit sanctions are in Saudi Arabia.

    The only good news is that Working Links will get kicked out in Scotland once the powers are devolved.

    'The Work Programme has been proven time and again to be a broken system which is failing to help people into work. In fact it’s only getting 18% of people into a job so it’s time to put this exploitative, punitive and under-performing programme out of its misery once and for all.'

    1. Lucy McTernan, Deputy Chief Executive, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said:

      “John Swinney will soon have the power to scrap the Work Programme in Scotland and we urge him to do so as soon as he can. The Work Programme has been proven time and again to be a broken system which is failing to help people into work. In fact it’s only getting 18% of people into a job so it’s time to put this exploitative, punitive and under-performing programme out of its misery once and for all.

      “The UK and Scottish Governments should enter immediate discussions to find a way for the Scottish Government to take control over the Work Programme immediately, without waiting for the full transfer of the other proposed powers. This would require the better intergovernmental working recommended by Lord Smith and supported by us.

      “We already have the highly successful Community Jobs Scotland (CJS) which has created jobs for nearly 5,000 young unemployed people across 580 charities and third sector organisations in Scotland. More than 60% of people taking part in the CJS go on to either full time employment or take up further training.
      “CJS creates real, paid jobs for young unemployed people, including those who face the biggest barriers to work, such as low skills and qualifications.

      “Any delay in ridding Scotland of the Work Programme and investing instead in approaches which actually create paid jobs and support people into long-term employment, would be inexcusable.”

  6. that man's got too much time on his hands, what an absolute load of bollocks. These companies are absolutely ruthless no doubt about it.

    1. Couldn't agree more! How can they be awarded a new contract to help those who were on the Work Programme 2 yrs who they were supposed to be helping in the 1st place but didn't. It's like rewarding bad behaviour. Also they 'park' offenders who are on the WP because they are more difficult to help into work.

  7. Just before Christmas staff are dismayed with WL's untimely and inconsiderate tidings of job losses, and now it's happy new year, best wishes and let me just tell you how prosperous the business has been, and plans to be in 2016. Indeed, as ruthless as the so called MOJ no doubt!

  8. The fake we're-all-in-this-together bonhomie goes further down the WL ranks - Phil Andrew's minion Paul Hindson (Managing Director of UK Justice) refers to "our people" several times a paragraph in his weekly briefing (despite the CRC legally being, and having to remain, a separate entity), and each time I want to vomit. Have they still not got the message that 95%+ of us don't want to be "our people"?

    1. They live in a different world to us - Orwellian 'double-speak' comes to mind? WL CRC staff waiting for the Consultation Package to be introduced by end Jan/early Feb. My guess they're still making it up as they go along.

    2. "Phil Andrew's minion Paul Hindson (Managing Director of UK Justice) refers to "our people" several times a paragraph in his weekly briefing"

      It might be good to share more widely folks - my contact details are on the profile page.

    3. "It might be good to share more widely folks" - only if you post with a warning not to read just after you've eaten something...

  9. I have just been looking at photos of life in North Korea - but only in areas officials allowed them to visit, with miserable faced bridal parties standing in front of statues of deceased leaders, and children doing the same - all looking utterly miserable, and kindergartens with cartoon murals on the walls of children dressed as Korean soldiers, raining missiles on American and Japanese soldiers. And people dancing in the square to 'celebrate' the testing of the hydrogen bomb.

    I then read jolly old Phil's propaganda message to their staff and wanted to vomit - I got precisely the same vision of this bumped up egotist not showing the slightest concern for people's suffering, but just wanting to tell the world how good THEY are, and stuff the rest of you pathetic dispensable moaners.

    His language and style has made me cringe, I think he should bugger off to N Korea, where he would make a good PR crawler (or executed if he doesn't)- no one believes it except the arse licking cronies, but everyone has to bow to their beautiful leader. I wonder if he was walking at 3 weeks too????

    We've already seen the photo - how long before we see the huge statue??

    God help us all.

  10. Ml you make my blood boil with your blog. Hate Phil cos you ain't Phil. Get over yourself. He is simply running a business and there are always casualties in business. It's just business. Anyone business man knows this but you are clearly no business man

    1. I wondered where our Tory cheerleader friend had gone - it'd been awfully quiet around here since the cold, hard evidence of CRC failures started coming in.

      Welcome back! Now, would you mind going away again?

    2. Phil Andrew's tone is imperial throughout: cocksure, patronising, single-minded. His smirking outfit have colonised a part of probation and he's intent, after a year of so-called 'mobilisation and stablisation' to grow the business. A 'business' predicated on a master-slave relationship in his CRC madrassas. It will take an uprising to give him pause for thought. Until that happens tomorrow belongs to the Phils of this world.

    3. ..he can't even see the irony in getting a diversity award and working with Saudi ! Agree ml, God help us..

  11. No real business would run on tax payers money. Real businesses CREATE things that people want. They manufacture them and people choose to buy those things thus making a profit for the company
    They do not use tax payers money to make profit by axing jobs and therefore giving the public a second or third rate service. Phil Andrews is no businessman.

    1. True. In my eyes he's just an overpaid banker, a bean counter, an auditor of widgets, a manipulator, a predator, a snake oil salesman. Like many of the modern "movers & shakers", a narcissist with an equally large appetite for money.

    2. So true 16:24, and again what a mess we are in as a country that those in Government should contract out huge amounts of public money to large companies, so that they can simply make profit by axing jobs and giving the public a second or third rate service.


    1. A PRIVATE company chosen to run probation services and manage violent offenders in South Yorkshire has failed an audit.

      Sodexo, a French catering company, was chosen to run South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) in December 2014.

      But within six months of taking over, it had failed an audit by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) who found that offenders were “not being properly monitored” and there were “systematic failures” with the management of offenders.

      John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, called for the company to be stripped of its contract, branding the failings “a scandal and a disgrace”.

      He added: “Conservative ministers were determined to press ahead with privatisation and, within just a few months, there’s proof it’s putting the public at risk.

      “Before this contract Sodexo had no experience in dealing with offenders they served food in our schools.

      “They’re just not up to the job and should be stripped of the contract.”

      Mr Healey said he had asked justice secretary Michael Gove for a copy of the MoJ audit and an explanation from the government.

      He also said he had received a number of reports from probation officers in South Yorkshire about high workloads, low morale, failed promises, IT problems and other issues.

      Mr Healey said: “There are extremely worrying findings in this audit, but exactly the sort of problems I and other MPs predicted and feared before the government pushed through its reckless and ideological reorganisation.

      “Company managers seem to be paying little care or attention to the service, offenders and safety of the public, and this is why I have, and will continue to, challenge the government over the privatisation of a perfectly good service.

      “Ministers were determined to press on with privatising probation, despite serious concerns about the risk to public safety.

      “There was no justification or evidence it would make the probation service better, the public safer or reduce re-offending.”

      A spokesman for Sodexo Justice Services said: “We are disappointed with the results of the recent audit at South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company.

      “We take this very seriously and have implemented an action plan to address the concerns raised.”

      A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it was currently reviewing the CRC’s corrective action plan and that if it was found to not be meeting the requirements of the plan, the MoJ had the right to take further action.

      He said: “We hold providers rigorously to account for their performance and take action wherever they are falling short.

      “Following an audit by the Ministry of Justice, South Yorkshire CRC has now developed an improvement plan. We will continue to monitor the CRC’s performance closely.

      “Our probation reforms are designed to make sure almost all offenders receive support on release, including, for the first time, those sentenced to less than 12 months.”

  13. More info on WL from their website
    'Our leadership and industry expertise is evident in our unique structure. We are a public, private and voluntary company. Our public sector share is managed by the government’s Shareholder Executive, on behalf of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Our private sector shareholders are Manpower and Capgemini, and our voluntary sector share is owned by Mission Australia.'

  14. NewsUKCrime
    Michael Gove eyes up implementing Texas-style courts that monitor drug users rather than jailing them
    Special courts for low-level offenders would ease prisoner numbers
    Mark Leftly Deputy Political Editor @MLeftly 1 hour ago

  15. Voices
    Suspended judgement on the Government's prison poilcy
    If David Cameron and Michael Gove are serious about being tough on the causes of crime, we should praise them
    Editorial @IndyVoices 1 hour ago0 comments

  16. I am very unhappy with their links (scusr the pun ) in Saudi. I am positive that Napo will be making raising concerns over this .. I have emailed them

  17. Working Links web site is advertising a Graduate recruitment Scheme with a requirement to be a fluent Arabic speaker

  18. Probation Officer10 January 2016 at 13:39

    Along with the graduate scheme, Working Links is celebrating 2 years providing services in Saudi Arabia.

    Since Saudi Arabia EXECUTED 47 PEOPLE on 2nd Jan 2016, as I just saw on the news, is it not a bit of a conflict of interest that Working Links is running 3 of our Community Rehabilitation Companies???

    Can any probation (Working Links) CRC staff in Wales; Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire; and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall tell me if beheading is a planned intervention???

    1. I suppose if offenders will insist on failing to attend and breach means a failed target for PbR then beheading could become an intervention. Who knows what they will do next as human life form obviously means very little to them!

  19. Well good luck them getting takers to go to Saudi Arabia to either be beheaded, flogged or kidnapped by Isis and beheaded etc. I would not will not go there. Saudi Arabia do not allow their women to work. Their version of Islam is wahabism, the version used by Isis to justify their violence and world anihilistic view. It's no coincidence that Osama bin Laden hailed from SA. Working links involvement in Saudi demonstrates their putting profit first regardless of ethic or risk.

    1. With the price of oil collapsing, maybe the Saudi royals will apply?