Friday, 28 September 2012

The PAC's report

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.


  1. Is not "jobseekers allowance" the minimum the law says people need to live on? so why do people have "sign on" or attend "the work programme"?

    1. Far too big a question for this thread.

    2. Fundamental misunderstanding around welfare in the UK.

      There is an unconditional right to cash benefits for the unemployed in the UK.

      nope- not for decades.

      JSA is a reward that can be earned provided certain conditions are met. There is an unconditional right to housing (council have a legal duty to provide) and healthcare (NHS) which are the UK safety nets to mitigate against prevent death from exposure and starvation/malnutrition.

      JSA is a luxury on top of these services reserved for the special few who meet the conditions. As many know if you are too ill to meet the conditions for JSA, but not ill enough to pass an ATOS test there is no cash benefit available.

      As long as you realise these are the facts you wont be disappointed by the services available.

    3. There was NEVER an unconditional right to unemployment benefits. They were paid on condition that you were actively seeking work, and if you had sufficient NI contributions in that year. If you ran out, you had to fall back on means-tested, lower benefits. The minimum income, usually income support, was a concept which no longer exists, since Labour eroded the idea.

    4. I disagree with the concept that the Council "Have to house" people,yes they have an obligation,but will they fulfill it?I have been sofa surfing for over 2 years,contacted the council and the advice given"As a single male,with no disabilities or children,we are unable to help,please refer to our website for information on staying with friends or family" all fine,but JCP/WP now want to know,where,when and how long I have stayed at all addresses,concern for my well being?No,reduction in JSA or increase in Council tax or reduction in HB to the F/F that have allowed me to stay.

  2. A4E are about to begin a contract in one month's time for the education in all the London prisons. Yet what example are they setting to prisoners even if as they say they have corrected their practices !! Why are they being given this lucrative contract when there were many other organisations bidding for it who at there least demonstrate integrity in their practices.


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