It makes sense to get MPs on side. But on the Work Programme A4e, like all the other providers, will be judged on results. After the leaked document showing very poor results, and Private Eye's publication of the letter showing that Working Links is in the same position, the Telegraph now has an email to Ingeus staff from its director Jack Sawyer. He says that the firm is not meeting its "contractual minimums" and its performance is not good enough. Chris Grayling's reaction is simple. It's all getting better and anyway, "any providers which were failing to deliver could see more unemployed people referred to other welfare to work companies under the programme." He doesn't say what will happen if they're all doing equally badly.
Saturday, 1 September 2012
PR or results?
A4e has been on a PR offensive, described on its website. They have invited local MPs into their offices to show them "the real work that goes on behind the headlines". Six have so far taken up the offer. Niki Freeman, who is described as Local Business Leader for A4e, is quoted as saying: "Some of the comments that have been made against A4e have been incredibly frustrating and hurtful for my staff and the many partners we work with, who, day in, day out, have simply been doing their jobs." I sympathise with that. But the piece goes on: "Over the last year, A4e has been working hard to establish an excellent team of professional staff with a range of specialist skills to support individuals across the UK. The Work Programme’s ‘black box’ approach gives service providers the freedom to create innovative ways of working, allowing A4e to tailor its service to individuals." This is where many clients would take issue with the company. The reactions of three of the MPs are quoted. Two of them, Helen Wheeler of South Derbyshire and John Stevenson of Carlisle, are Conservatives and effusive. The third, Labour's Vernon Coaker, is more guarded. But no doubt all of them were happy to be quoted.