However, the government's apparent ignorance about sanctions cannot be excused. They have repeatedly been confronted with real cases of people being punished for trivial or non-existent offences, by Labour MPs and others, but have insisted that it's not true. That has become more difficult since the Mirror published revelations on Tuesday. Iain Duncan Smith, along with Esther McVey and Neil Couling, head of Jobcentre Plus, attended a meeting last week with a whistle-blower who has worked for the DWP for more than 20 years. The man told them, "“The pressure to sanction customers was constant. It led to people being stitched-up on a daily basis.” He went on "“We were constantly told ‘agitate the customer’ and that ‘any engagement with the customer is an opportunity to sanction’.” The targets, he said, are sometimes referred to as "expectations". And this led to managers stitching up claimants by altering their appointments without telling them so that they missed the appointment and were sanctioned. They were told to "inconvenience" the clients and to regard them as scroungers. It's a horrific account. And now the Labour MP Debbie Abrahams is agitating for an independent enquiry into sanctions. It won't happen, of course.
There's one area of outsourcing on which most of us prefer to remain ignorant. Read Polly Toynbee's Guardian piece headed "Now troubled children are an investment opportunity".