They homed in on the Pathways to Work programme which failed so dismally for those companies. A4e and Reed, you remember, were interrogated by the Public Accounts Committee on why they had performed so much worse than Jobcentre Plus. Now, A4e's Nigel Lemmon ( Executive Director A4e Welfare) says that they did better in some areas than in others; but the programme pointed out that this was only on their own measures of performance. (Lemmon later on said that all the criticism of A4e was unfair.) Dan Finn, who is a professor of social inclusion, said that JCP did better because they had been doing the work for years - er, yes - and because they were in competition with the private sector. (No evidence was given for this, because there is no evidence.)
Then we got Hayley Taylor. But what she said was actually true; people are not realistic and the government has no comprehension of people's lives. A report from the DWP says that half the people on benefits are not looking for work. I haven't seen the report, so I don't know what that figure includes. There was an interview with Colin in Leeds, a graphics designer unemployed for 3 years, who described the poor facilities and lowest-common-denominator approach he has experienced on New Deal and FND. Then Hayley Taylor openly criticised her old employer, A4e, for the first time. She knew it was hopeless when she was faced with an 18-year-old who didn't want to work and a redundant 55-year-old who was desperate for a job and was expected to deliver the same lesson to them in the same class. The impression was given that this was the reason she left A4e, whereas she seems to have left to star in her own show. Anyway, the programme pointed out that much of the criticism they had heard was about A4e, which seemed to have an unenviable reputation. Yet it got the second-largest share of the WP contracts. We heard from Martin who is with A4e for the second time; he was shattered to hear them telling him that his CV was no good, when it had been done by the same A4e people the first time around. He said he felt he was serving a prison sentence.
The presenter said that they had spoken to numerous people on the WP who feel that they are being ignored because there are too many people on the programme. They also complained about assumptions that every client was illiterate, innumerate and stupid. One commentator said that the big companies had all bid for the WP because that was all there was, and they all assumed that the government will have to step in and renegotiate when it goes wrong. Chris Grayling said that won't happen. The CE of the WISE Group complained that they had lost out on the contracts and had to lay off 40% of their staff. The presenter then said that they had a confidential document which shows that Ingeus offered a 60% discount for part of the contract, and they were not the only providers which had done this. Grayling denied that the government was putting price before quality. It was pointed out that only half the promised 40% of the work went to small companies and voluntary sector, and there were fears that the primes would cherry-pick the easiest customers and pass the hardest on to their sub-contractors. Finally, and significantly, the presenter said that everyone they had spbout oken to in their research wanted a job. All in all, this was a worthy attempt to present a serious programme about the Work Programme.
Here's the document about A4e's "Families Unlimited" project to get sub-contracts for the new workless families contracts. There's an American organisation with the same name. Perhaps they didn't know.
I'm thinking of setting up a website with practical advice for the unemployed; jobsearch, application forms, CVs, interviews etc. What do you think?