Saturday, 16 January 2010

"Plundering the Public Sector"

I've just read "Plundering the Public Sector" by David Craig (Constable, 2006). It doesn't touch on A4e or the welfare-to-work sector, but it throws light on the New Labour's relationship with private companies. I quote from the blurb: "In this eye-opening book David Craig, a consultant and author of the best-selling Rip-Off!, and Richard Brooks, a journalist with Private Eye, reveal how dishonest politicians, gullible civil servants and voracious consultants have given us a series of huge consulting projects that have been a catastrophic waste of taxpayers' money. It is an inside story of lies, stupidity and greed with shocking results; our services are being decimated while consulting is creating more millionaires than the National Lottery." The book shows how the government has handed over "reform" in the public sector to a few large companies (Serco among them), who have wreaked havoc through ignorance and incompetence whilst pocketing mind-boggling amounts of our money.
Two things struck me in relation to the theme of this blog. The first is that it might provide an explanation for A4e's move to calling themselves experts in "welfare reform". The line between advisers and contractors has dissolved. Emma Harrison boasts of her contacts with government. How far are A4e, Serco, Reed and the others designing welfare programmes rather than just delivering them? The second thought is that A4e has recently moved into consulting.
In an earlier post I wrote about the invisibility of New Deal in its various incarnations from discussions on unemployment. It's now apparent that not even the government expects it to produce results. You may have looked at the government's website which gives the results of its constant inspection of local authorities. One of its categories is "Earning - working to ensure that all local people thrive economically" which is about "Helping people to get work who have been unemployed a long time or don't work and claim benefits because of poor health". Several councils have been marked down they're not doing enough. They may well be spending a fortune on schemes, in conjunction with local employers, charities and other organisations, but if unemployment is high in their areas they are told they're not doing enough. They could be forgiven for asking what New Deal is supposed to be doing.


  1. TBG Learning have been shorlisted to run a 2 year trial of a 'work for your benefits' program. The two areas allocated for the trial are Manchester and parts of East Anglia. The TBG Learning site even has a 'expression of interest'Word doc on it for organisations to download.

    I mention this because it would seem to confirm your analysis that our governemnt don't expect FND, even though it is early days, to have the desired results, and have gone down the road of workfare. Even Thatcher never had the guts to go down this road, even though she considered the idea.

    Once this becomes more widely known I believe there will be a national outcry, at least I hope there will.

  2. Working in the welfare to work industry has given me a lot of insight into this industry. There is mass, mass, mass wasting of money and heeps of potential for fraud, and you can bet that it is going on.

    The whole industry that takes government funding to get these people into work can make massive profits for very little work. The targets are an average of 20-30% and many of these can be reached with short term contracts, and if you don't quite make it, you can easily fudge the forms and make an easy £1000 out of it.

    I have seen a lot of things. I won't mention who I work for, but we certainly deal with very lucrative contracts.

  3. I'd dispute some of your points (and I've worked in the industry). The targets for the standard contracts are higher than the 20-30% you suggest, but New Deal never realised the targets. And you can't drive up the figures by "fudging" the forms. Yes, the figures don't mean very much, but an employer has to sign to verify a job outcome. The potential for fraud isn't that great. It's happened, certainly, but not any large scale. If you know different, perhaps you should contact the police, or your MP. I agree on the waste of money!


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