Working Links

Working Links (Employment) Limited
Founder William Cook, Keith Faulkner, Sir Leigh Lewis
Headquarters Middlesbrough, United Kingdom
Number of locations
100+ (2015)
Area served
UK, Ireland, Middle East
Key people
Phil Andrew, CEO
Number of employees
Divisions Employability, International, Justice

Turas Nua - Ireland Wales CRC, Devon, Dorset & Cornwall CRC

Bristol, Swindon, Wiltshire & Gloucestershire CRC.

Working Links (formally Working Links (Employment) Limited) was established in 2000 as a public, private and voluntary company that provides welfare services and help with employability. It was acquired by the investment group Aurelius in June 2016.[1]

Working Links helps disadvantaged people including the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities and people with convictions. As of 2016 they have helped over 350,000 people into employment.[1] It is one of the providers of the Work Programme initiative, that has helped more than 400,000 people into sustainable work in Britain.[2] Their turnover grew from £63 million in 2006 to £123 million in 2012.[3][4]

In 2012 company was the subject of fraud allegations made by its former chief auditor Eddie Hutchinson.[5] Working Links denied the allegations stating that they have "a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and rigorous processes in place to handle any suspected incidents of fraud or other misconduct." The Department for Work and Pensions stated that the "allegations all relate to programmes run by the previous government" and that they have measures in place to prevent fraud.[6]


Working Links was established in 2000 by the Shareholder Executive, Manpower, and Ernst & Young Consulting. Ernst & Young Consulting merged with Gemini Consulting, a branch of Cap Gemini, to form Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young was renamed Capgemini in 2004. The charity Mission Australia acquired a share of the company in 2006, rendering Working Links the first public, private and voluntary organisation in the UK.

European investment firm Aurelius acquired Working Links for an undisclosed sum in June 2016. [7]

It has delivered contracts on behalf of government departments primarily to get people back into work, starting with Employment Zones and also including Pathways to Work, Progress to Work, New Deal, New Deal for Disabled People, Work Choice, ESF Family Support and Flexible New Deal.

In 2011, Working Links won three contract package areas to deliver the Coalition government's new Work Programme. This made Working Links the third largest Work Programme provider in the UK. The three contracts acquired were the South West, Wales and Scotland and, as of May 2012, receives around £120 million a year from the DWP and various other governmental bodies.

Work Programme

Working Links has helped more than 62,000 people find a job through the Work Programme, as of June 2015. Working Links referred the most cases for financial sanctions (11,910) to be taken against welfare recipients amongst Work Programme suppliers between June 2011 and January 2012.[8]

Richard Whittell from Corporate Watch said the Work Programme appeared to be focused on slashing benefit rather than putting people into work. "These figures give the lie to the government's claims its welfare reforms are about helping people into work".[9]

"By the time it's finished, more people will have been sanctioned by the Work Programme than properly employed through it. Every month thousands of people are having their only source of income stopped and being pushed into hardship. Companies like Serco, Working Links and G4S may not be very good at finding people suitable work, but they're dab hands at punishing them. The private firms say they make their referrals to job centres in line with government guidelines."[10]

Working Links sub-contract work to companies such as Triage and Routes To Work in North Lanarkshire.[11] The BBC broadcast a documentary in which five former employees of Triage claimed that disabled and jobless people processed by the company were referred to as LTB's (Lying Thieving Bastards).[12] A spokesman for Working Links said "We work with a number of subcontractors all of whom go through a stringent vetting and approval process. We take any allegations of poor practice seriously and will be looking into matters further."[13]

Transforming Rehabilitation

In 2015, Working Links was awarded contracts to run three Community Rehabilitation Companies as part of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms with the aim of cutting reoffending. Under the reforms, probation services have been split into two with the National Probation Service managing high risk offenders and Community Rehabilitation Companies managing low and medium risk offenders. Working Links is responsible for the delivery of Community Rehabilitation Companies in Wales; Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; and Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Allegations of fraud

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.[14] Working Links said: "We firmly reject any assertion of widespread fraud within our business."[15] The Department for Work and Pensions ruled that all allegations had been investigated at the time and no further action was needed.

See also


  1. 1 2 "AURELIUS acquires leading provider of employability and rehabilitation services Working Links". EQS Group. Jun 29, 2016. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  2. "Government hails success of Work Programme". 18 Jun 2015. Recruiter. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  3. "Profile: Working Links and A4e". The Telegraph. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  4. "Premier Inn to create 70 new jobs in Glasgow". Daily Record. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  5. "'Billion-pound scandal' in welfare to work". The Telgraph. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  6. "Working Links accused of engaging in systemic fraud by former chief auditor". Wales Online. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  7. Yahoo Finance news story
  8. "David Cameron's back-to-work firms want benefits cut more often", The Guardian, Daniel Boffey, 30 June 2012
  9. "David Cameron's back-to-work firms want benefits cut more often", The Guardian, Daniel Boffey, 30 June 2012
  10. The Guardian, Daniel Boffey, 30 June 2012
  11. "Back-to-work firm attacks offensive behaviour claim", The Herald, 29 January 2013, retrieved 2 March 2013
  12. "'Lying thieving b******s': BBC documentary lifts the lid on offensive code used to describe disabled and jobless", The Independent, 28 JANUARY 2013, Retrieved 2 March 2013
  13. "Back-to-work firm attacks offensive behaviour claim", The Herald, 29 January 2013, retrieved 2 March 2013
  14. "'Billion-pound scandal’ in welfare to work", Telegraph, 23 May 2012
  15. "Liam Byrne: 'IDS has been asleep at the wheel over A4e", Telegraph, 24 May 2012
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