It's the best possible outcome for A4e. We all knew that there was no chance of an investigation finding "systemic fraud" in the company. But to have exonerated them completely would have been a mite suspicious. So the DWP has taken away one small contract; one which A4e says employed just 5 people and made up just 0.5% of the company's revenues (Guardian) and where fraud has been admitted. A4e bosses sound suitably contrite but vindicated.
The media have generally been content to report rather than comment. Clearly we are meant to see this as drawing a line. Whatever happens now, in Slough for instance, can be seen as an isolated incident and proof that the company has got its act together by reporting it to the police in the first place. The two prison education contracts which had been put on hold can now get the go-ahead. Business as usual. Labour's Liam Byrne has blustered ineffectually. But what about all those dossiers which MPs and journalists were compiling? Margaret Hodge MP and Fiona Mactaggart MP, members of the Public Accounts Committee, said that they'd received hundreds of complaints. Journalists were keen to hear from whistle-blowers, and I know of at least one TV producer anxious to get evidence. Now, presumably, there's no story. Move on.
But that will be a disservice to all those who have voiced their anger at their experiences. We need to maintain our watch on this company.