A two-year Work Programme with Ingeus (UK) Ltd is a gruelling ordeal, even for those who are not singled out and subjected to maltreatment and abuse the way I was. On this page, I will endeavour to share what I have learned over the last five years, in the hope that it will help you to survive.
Safety in numbers
The first, and most important, principle is that of safety in numbers. Even an organisation as vile as Ingeus (UK) Ltd cannot persecute everyone to the fullest extent. In my case, they have wasted over £100,000 in unrecoverable legal expenses just to swindle me out of my statutory right to benefits, and to rob me of my opportunity to take part in the Work Programme. If they did that to everyone who was supposed to be on the programme, even they would go bankrupt.
As an organisation, they have to abuse selectively and pick their victims. Of course, that doesn’t apply to individuals within the organisation, some of whom are obviously going to have their own vendettas or hatred agendas. Nevertheless, the further you go up the complaint chain, the less they can afford to go too extreme, or else they end up with expensive litigation.
Anyone who can stay low and keep below the radar has a chance of surviving. If there is nothing wrong, stay away from any and all confrontations. Don’t seek out trouble, but try not to allow individuals who are behaving abominably to take advantage. The complaints procedure is a total sham, and is just an excuse to flag up victims for further “attention”, but there are some decent people at ground level. Not all of the advisers are nasty people, but the degree of nastiness seems to increase exponentially as you go up in rank.
This is an important principle. Advisers, as with all other human beings, vary greatly in attitude, demeanour, character, ability, and willingness to help. There are some “bottom of the barrel” advisers who have no ability whatsoever and who are only in the job because it is an opportunity to bully people who cannot fight back. Thankfully, those are relatively rare. If you get one, you will have your work cut out just to survive. The important factor is not to react. If they go over the top, calmly stick up for yourself, and submit written complaints if necessary. Know, though, that they won’t change your adviser no matter how bad things get. Not even if there is a total personality clash and not even one chance in a billion that you could ever work together, and the adviser on the next desk would be a perfect match for you.
There are also advisers who are loud and aggressive, but who are relatively decent underneath. These can usually be handled by simply ignoring the aggression and dealing with fundamentals. It is the old psychology principle from Dr. Eric Berne and the “Games People Play.” Often, people will stop throwing the ball if you never make any attempt to catch it.
There are also some good advisers who do genuinely care about the people they work with. They are totally out of place in a sewer like Ingeus (UK) Ltd, but, if you are one of the lucky ones who happens to get one, thank whatever you can in your prayers and take every advantage of your good fortune. You may even be one of the exceptions which prove the rule, one of the extreme rarities who actually gets some benefit from being on the Work Programme. If so, get a T-shirt printed and wear it with pride. Your novelty value will get you plenty of attention.
It is important to realise that Ingeus (UK) Ltd makes no attempt to match advisers to attendees. If there is a huge personality clash, they simply don’t care. If an attendee comes into the building chanting “Sieg Heil!”, wearing a swastika T-shirt and Waffen SS badges, Sod’s law will guarantee that they get referred to the only black or Jewish adviser in the building. When that happens, the management will just laugh and do nothing.
It never occurs to them that if they made some kind of effort to match people with other people with whom they would get on well and work with easily, everyone, including themselves, would benefit. That is a completely foreign concept to Ingeus (UK) Ltd, and the higher up the chain you get, the more likely you are to find an insane agitator who deliberately makes everything worse.
The Complaints Procedure
It is important to realise that the Ingeus (UK) Ltd complaints procedure is nothing but a sham. It exists so that those who are prepared to try and argue for their rights can be flagged to the management and singled out for even more vile treatment.
That is what happened to me. When my complaints were escalated to the highest level, the Operations Manager deliberately took the most sadistic and malicious action possible in order to punish me for having dared to raise a complaint.
Do not expect to be treated fairly, because you won’t be. Do not expect a manager to want to resolve your issues, because they won’t. What they want to do is make your problems worse and to make you suffer to the highest degree possible, so you can be some kind of perverted “example” to everyone else.
It is like political totalitarianism. You either “enjoy” the “paradise” in which you live, or you grit your teeth and pretend to enjoy it. Stick your neck out, and they will chop your head off, every time.
There are times, as in my case, where you have zero choice about complaining, as your situation will have worsened to the degree that it is no longer even tolerable. Be very careful. Put everything in writing, even at the stages where the complaints are supposed to be handled verbally. If they insist that you “speak” to an office manager, send an email with the written version and then speak to the office manager.
Be aware that the early stage of the complaints procedure involves verbal dialogue, and that this gives them the opportunity to promise a resolution to which you will agree, and then completely renege on the promise when the time comes.
This is what happened to me. An office manager known as Ross “Dross” Marshall promised me a referral to one of the best and most experienced advisers in the building, who was also a mature adviser with a calm temperament with whom I would have worked extremely well. When the time came for him to implement the resolution, he reneged on his promise and stabbed me in the back. From that point on, my “Work Programme” went from bad to worse to even worse, and now, five years later, the case is still in court and Ingeus have lost over £100,000 in wasted legal costs. Good, isn’t it?
I’m sure you don’t need to be told that the so-called “Independent Case Examiner” and the Parliamentary Ombudsman are 100% corrupt, but just in case there is anyone out there who is not aware of the plethora of cases in which people have been robbed blind by these money-wasting diseased quangos, I will point it out just for completeness.
Just in case you don’t know how Ombudsmen operate, I will tell you. If someone raises a small, insignificant complaint, the Ombudsman will probably uphold it and slap the authority on the wrist and tell them not to do it again until next time. In rare cases, the complainant may even get a tiny compensation payment. This is so the statistics can be warped. Whenever anyone has suffered a very serious loss as a result of what they call ‘maladministration’, the Ombudsman will whitewash the abuse and make out that it is all the complainant’s fault.
The bottom line is that complaining to an Ombudsman is no more effective that complaining to the fairies at the bottom of the garden or Santa Claus. If you have a minor problem, ICE might just try to organise mediation for you, but if you have a major problem, you will need to go to court.
Be aware, though, that even the courts are full of “establishment-friendly” judges who will always rule in an authority’s favour no matter what the circumstances of the case. If you are being harassed and abused by individuals employed by Ingeus (UK) Ltd, it is vital to sue those individuals, preferably as joint tortfeasors so that vicarious liability still operates.
Data Protection Act 1998
Ingeus (UK) Ltd has total contempt for the Data Protection Act 1998. In my case, they illegally obtained my private cell phone number from a third party to bombard it with nuisance calls, and also moved my case file to a totally irrelevant department so I would be inundated with spam emails.
If you are about to start an Ingeus (UK) Ltd Work Programme, I strongly suggest that you set up a new email address with one of the free providers. It will need to look “professional”, as it will need to go on your resume (or “CV”, as they insist on calling it for some reason), which they will update at least five hundred times on the programme as it is the “fall back time waster” which they go back to every time they can’t think of anything else to do.
Just use your own name with some numbers added at the end. Simple and non-controversial. Then, when you leave the programme, you can just delete the account and any spam they send will never reach you. Make sure that any email address you care about is removed from any and all paperwork which your Ingeus adviser will see, including any previous version of your resume. If you can edit previous versions so they include the new address, so much the better.
Also, if you can afford it, get a new cell phone. I know this may be a tough ask for a lot of unemployed people surviving on less than they need to even maintain a minimum standard of living, but you really do not want Ingeus (UK) Ltd to have access to any cell phone number you actually care about. They will spam the hell out of it mercilessly and illegally, and make your life a total misery.
Just buy the cheapest cell phone on the market, get a SIM from giffgaff, and only use the phone when communicating with Ingeus (UK) Ltd. Giffgaff is a peer-to-peer cell phone network which runs over O2, and there are no monthly contracts. You can just top it up with £10 and use it as you need to. The credit doesn’t expire at the end of any set period.
Make sure you edit any paperwork which your Ingeus adviser will see, so that it has the new disposable cell phone number and not any which you regularly use and care about. When you leave the programme, you can just dump that cell phone and you will be free from illegal spam SMS messages and nuisance calls.
Special needs and disabilities
Nothing means less to Ingeus (UK) Ltd than disabilities or special needs. Anyone who has these is a malingerer and even more fun to maltreat and abuse.
Just be aware of the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, and what you may be able to use to support your case should the bullying and abuse get too severe to handle. If you have any questions, you can always get in touch through the Contact page and I will do my best to help.
Obviously, attend all mandatory appointments, including workshops. If you don’t, you’ll lose your benefit money and there will be no way to get it back.
Ingeus (UK) Ltd offices have banks of computers which may be available for use. The key here is moderation, because office managers target those who use the facilities too much, while advisers hate anyone who doesn’t use them at all.
If your adviser invites you to stay and do “job-searching”, and you haven’t got any other pressing engagements, always stay and do whatever you can just to keep them happy.
Be very careful, though, about using the office facilities on days where you don’t have an adviser appointment. Once a week for a couple of hours is probably OK, twice a week is pushing it, any more and you will probably get a manager breathing down your neck and telling you that you are spending too much time there and it needs to stop. This will be the case even if your adviser has told you that you can use the facilities as often as you need. Remember, there are some decent advisers (although there are plenty of the other sort as well), but in my experience there are NO decent managers. Not in Ingeus (UK) Ltd.
Don’t have blue hair, spiky hair cuts, T-shirts with rude messages on, faded jeans or trousers with holes in, odd shoes or socks, or anything else which makes you stand out from the crowd. Paradoxically, it is also vital not to look professional. I actually attended the Ingeus (UK) Ltd office in a decent suit. I thought I looked reasonable, they thought I looked like a target. Lesson learned.
What you want to look like is the same as everyone else. Anything which stands out is a target which is easier to hit. The more anonymous you are, the better.
The one thing you will never find in an Ingeus (UK) Ltd office is sanity.
Ingeus (UK) Ltd employs hundreds if not thousands of advisers, yet it cannot spell the word “adviser.” I suggest you still spell it correctly, as it is not going to do you any good if a third party sees your paperwork and thinks you are as daft as they are.
Ingeus (UK) Ltd offices are characterised by nauseating over-familiarity. If your adviser’s name is Mrs. Smith, and you refer to them as “Mrs. Smith”, you will probably get shouted at by some idiot and told to behave like a five year old.
When attendees attend an Ingeus (UK) Ltd office, they should obviously address the adviser as “Title Surname”, while the adviser should address the attendee as “Surname.” That is what would happen in the sane world, but Ingeus (UK) Ltd and the sane world aren’t even in the same universe.
It is honestly best if you pretend you are back in kindergarten and go along with the pathetic charade, no matter how much it makes you gnash your teeth or boil inside. The last thing you want in an Ingeus (UK) Ltd office is anyone thinking you are a sane or normal human being.
Of course, if you have a good adviser with whom you get on well, you can probably address them properly in meetings. Just don’t do so within earshot of a manager or any other loose cannon who just lives for opportunities to cause trouble and to create problems where none exist.
By the way, don’t dare speak to anyone who is not your designated adviser. Nothing will bring the wrath of Hades down upon you quicker than assuming an air of normality in an abnormal environment. The adviser system is so sacred to Ingeus (UK) Ltd that daring to speak to anyone who is not your designated adviser is like an abomination of desecration.
Remember above all else that the goal is anonymity. If there are thousands of identical looking sheep, and you are one of them, you have a statistically small chance of being victimised. If you are the black sheep among a thousand white ones, your chances of being victimised rise dramatically.
Sometimes, though, you are just victimised by the gods of fortune. This is what happened to me. If I’d been born as one of Dolly Parton’s triplets, I’d have been the one on the bottle.
I happened to be promised a resolution to my difficulties, only for a sick excuse of a manager to renege on his promise and stab me in the back. I also happened to be sitting near a man-hating drug addict who decided to make me the scapegoat for their father’s lack of attention, and to invent lies to completely destroy my Work Programme participation. Had these two factors not been present, I might have had a successful Work Programme and been one of the rare case studies who actually succeed.
You will need luck to survive, but hopefully there are some tips here which will help as well. I wish you as peaceful a two years as possible, and a blissful sigh of relief at the end.