The Public Accounts Committee has published its report into the Work Programme, and there's a lot of disapproval in it of the way the DWP fails to oversee and manage its contractors properly. The Press Association has the basic press release. In the case of A4e, they say, the DWP didn't obtain the 2009 internal audit report which showed alleged fraud and malpractice. The subsequent enquiry into A4e resulted in one cancelled contract but did not address the wider question of whether A4e was a fit and proper company to have any such contracts. If it hadn't been for whistle blowers, says committee chair Margaret Hodge, a range of issues would not have been addressed at all.
As we reported last night, the report does not include the evidence of those whistle blowers, who asked for it to be pulled at the last minute. We don't know why, but we can guess. The Independent publishes some of Eddie Hutchinson's evidence which was leaked after the committee meeting. In another article on the report itself, the Independent reminds us that one of those whistle blowers "who had worked at A4e told how she had been asked to 'fix' files to suggest that people had successfully found work". The DWP repeats the mantra that it all happened under Labour's programmes and couldn't happen now. She also says the the enquiry into A4e is on-going.
The BBC news website has an unusually long piece. It includes Hodge's concern that "The design of the programme still allows for the possibility of providers being paid for finding work for people who found the jobs on their own". It also includes an attack by Iain Duncan Smith; he had asked senior Labour figures, including Hodge, "to reveal advice they received about fraud during their time in office". Some hadn't even replied. Like the Independent, the BBC reports, though briefly, Andrew Dutton's response. They have strengthened their controls, etc., and "we are now openly calling on MPs, business leaders and employers to come and see for themselves the work we are doing". Interestingly, the BBC uses as a graphic an old clip from A4e's website which still describes it as a "social purpose company".
For the whole of Dutton's response see the WallStreetonline site. This begins with the central message that A4e wants to get across: "A4e is a different company from the one it was two years ago". Many of us are yet to be convinced.