All the newspapers have reported the revelations from the BBC yesterday. The coverage ranges from the Daily Mail's usual strident reporting, complete with graphics, to the more sober account in the Telegraph, which quotes an A4e spkesperson: "While this investigation uncovered a number of areas where procedures may have been lacking, the final audit and further investigation determined that five claims were irregular and related to one former employee. This was reported to the DWP Risk Assurance Division, which confirmed that the action taken by A4e fully met their own audit requirements and that they considered the matter satisfactorily resolved. A4e repaid the value of these three claims in full, which totalled less than £5,000.”
The Yorkshire Post has the full quote from the DWP: "A 2009 A4e internal audit and risk document, relating to programmes contracted by the previous government, has today been passed to the department. The Work and Pensions Select Committee was made aware of this audit at the time and the department later received assurances from A4e that it had not uncovered any major issues." [my italics]Paul Mason picked up this point on Newsnight tonight. He said the DWP is now certain that it never received the report. Yet weeks ago it asked for all the relevant information. The report was made public in October 2009. (I'm not sure what he meant by this. Presumably it wasn't this leaked draft which was made public.) So what did the DWP get, Mason asked.
A4e says that they reported to the DWP the results of a final audit and further investigations. The DWP says they only got the document yesterday. So was the version of the original audit report which was given to the DWP devoid of all the damning findings and warnings? Did it amount to a cover-up?
Mason ended by saying that the future of A4e depends on what was actually submitted in 2009.