Working Links was established in 2000 by the Shareholder Executive (the body formerly responsible for managing UK Government investments), Manpower and Ernst & Young, to provide welfare and employability services. In 2016 it was bought by Aurelius, a European asset management and investment firm.
Working Links is responsible for the delivery of probation and rehabilitation services through Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in Wales; Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; and Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.
Working Links was also contracted by the government to help people into work through the DWP's controversial Work Programme.
In February 2019, Working Links went into administration. The collapse was in part due to their holding of three loss making contracts, which caused significant financial pressures on the company.
But aside from the financial disaster at Working Links, the company was also mismanaging the services it was providing. On the day the company collapsed, the Chief Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey released a damning report into one of Working Links' CRCs.
The report identified:
Aims of reducing re-offending and protecting the public were secondary to aims of avoiding financial penalties triggered by contractual targets.
A severe lack of staff capacity to deliver high quality services.
Leadership, staff, services, planning, and implementation and delivery were all inadequate.