Thursday, 25 October 2012

It "needs throwing out"

Channel 4 News tonight followed up it's piece on A4e and interview with Emma Harrison last night with an interview with Anna Burke, former head of Eco-Actif.  This was a social enterprise which was a sub-contractor of A4e until it went out of business.  Ms Burke was shown the figures which Harrison claimed were wrong, and she agreed that they looked accurate and were "highly typical".  She said that clients were divided into red, green and amber; the red ones being those who were shelved as being too hard to help.

Krishnan Guru-Murty said that a number of A4e clients had contacted the programme, and they showed a few of the comments, which were very critical.  They then replayed Harrison's "very improbable statement" description of a similar comment made on last night's programme.  Ms Burke referred to the "bullying" contention of Harrison, and said that the reputation throughout the Work Programme was that it was the clients who were being bullied.  It "needs throwing out," she said.

I don't think this story is going to go away.


  1. It would make more sense if the DWP used the A4e attachment fees and the other payments to help the Jobseekers directly. Help with the costs of transport ,training, telephone calls , paper and printing costs in the process of finding employment or even support for a developing business. That money would be going directly into the economy rather than lining the pockets of an already well off Emma Harrison. It would give people the choice of how the pursued their goals in life rather than central government mandating and penalising us.I thought that less big government was a goal of this current fiasco of a government

    1. The "fee" the provider recieves for a "client". why not just give the client the money so the person could go off for a few a few weeks holiday? enjoy themselfs for a while.

  2. Is this a Victory? The subcontractor that administers my WP(the Council)have shut down one site and merged it with another,appointments have changed to once a month,while waiting to sign on I saw a familiar face also waiting in line,a former Adviser,triumph? joy? did I feel smug? (the man was a terrible adviser in my opinion) actually I could feel his spirit was broken,like a policeman sent to jail and now had to associate with the inmates on reflection he was not a bad or mean spirited person,rather trapped in the same WP as myself and probably dreading having to engage with it knowing that there little or no help available.

    I wish him the best of luck!

  3. All the bad press or the bad reputation of A4e makes me think about all the alleged vacancies they find before the job ctre or that never get seen at the job ctre. Will all these employers start going somewhere else? I think this because that's why they say they get to hear about all these vacancies because of the bad reputation of job ctres.

    1. No, that's not how it works. The providers can have arrangements with an employer to send vacancies to them first. If Jobcentres have a bad reputation (and I'd dispute that) it's because they were stripped of staff and resources to finance the outsourcing of their work.

  4. "while waiting to sign on I saw a familiar face also waiting in line,a former Adviser,triumph? joy? did I feel smug? (the man was a terrible adviser in my opinion) actually I could feel his spirit was broken,like a policeman sent to jail..."

    mkmky, I'd have been more than a little tempted to have a quick word with him. Not so much to gloat, but rather ask him whether the WP they and the provider they worked for would be able to help him in his current predicament. And what he really thought of the WP now he had no vested interest in defending it.

  5. Emma Harrison is in big trouble and so is A4E. There has been a flurry of statements in the "news" section of A4E's website within the last 24 hours or so, all of them suggesting to me that this company realises that it is on the ropes and, apparently, so does its owner, Emma Harrison.

    According to the newest Press release, Emma Harrison has agreed to publish details of the dividends that she received in 2011 and 2012. These will be contained in the company's accounts, which will be filed at Companies House later in 2012, says the statement.

    On TV the other night, Emma Harrison told KGM that she had not received any dividends after her resignation as a Director on 24 February 2012. I thought, "What about the period between 01 January 2012 and 24 February 2012?"

    A4E usually files its accounts around 22 December or so every year, according to the Companies House records that can be accessed by any member of the public, via the Companies House website.

    I agree with Historian. I think that A4E have realised that this story is not going to go away.

  6. Historian,please excuse this diversion,but I am in need of some help from the Forum.I have had "What is expected from myself as a Client" thrown at me for the last year,what I am unable to understand is what can I expect from my WP Provider? Do they have any legal liability for failure to provide services? Tailored support is extremely vague,If I believe I have been Parked who can I complain to? Under my new "contract" I will only be seen 6 hours a year,to use there own words"I don't think they are willing to engage with me" Any advice would be appreciated.

  7. So A4greed have dug up some grateful clients who in the past have been placed into low grade jobs with Marks and Sparks. All well and good - and I understand their gratitude. No doubt A4greed were well rewarded for placing said persons. BUT the question which should be asked is " What if there was no WP, what if there were no A4greed - would these vacancies at M&S have gone unfilled in a society with 2million+ unemployed and where there are 15+applicants for every retail job???
    The answer is, of course, "NO". M&S would have had absolutly no difficulty at all in filling these vacancies from the abundance of suitable applicants. So what exactly are we paying A4greed for?

    1. I largely agree, but would make two points:
      First, can you stop using "A4greed" all the time. It's irritating.
      Second, there are people who've been unemployed for a long time and need encouragement to even apply for jobs. I can remember, a few years ago, a woman who went (willingly) on a work placement in a supermarket and was then offered a job interview with them. She was terrified and had to be cajoled and encouraged to go for it. She did, got the job, and came back a few weeks later to thank us. A small incident, but it happens. If the WP was working properly this would be commonplace.

  8. Harrison saying that It's a 'very improbable statement' that A4e only see people once a month shows how out of touch she is with reality. Once a month is all I and many I could name get. I'm certainly not complaining being seen so infrequently as there's no meaningful help or training on offer. The only people that are forced to attend jobsearch sessions at A4e are those within walking distance of the office. If I had to go in every week it would eat too far into the £400 attachment fee in bus fares, so I and many others are deemed too unprofitable and shelved!

    1. Since joining the work programme in June 2011 I have seen them twice, once an initial appointment, the second time in my local job centre.

      They have not contacted me whatsoever since I logged a complaint with ICE and refuse to speak to me on the phone/email.

      This all happened after I complained about them fabricating a signature on a document, their stance was that I was in the wrong and they had not fabricated the signature. No apologies, no results of any sort of internal investigation.

      Just silence...

    2. For the last 4 - 5 months, I have had to attend an "unsupervised" job search session for 1 hour every two weeks. Then one short meeting with my supervisor at the end of the month to arrange the next months appointments (1 hour Jobsearch's every 2 weeks)....that's it.

      I leave my flat, mobile broadband, and Modern PC behind and go to A4e to use 10+ year old PC's on a slow and erratic network.

      Usually there's some annoying local radio trash playing in the background, and there is always some annoying local jobless client talking very loudly about his life in general, like it's some kind of social club, thank god for headphones :)

      To entertain myself for an hour, I go for a cigarette, coffee, avoid talking to people, and use the toilet, any time left I amuse myself circumventing the security and restrictions on the network.

      It is a completely pointless and unnecessary waste of my time, that achieves nothing.

    3. I have to do 2hrs job search weekly, but it's arranged a month ahead, so I only see my advisor once a month to arrange the next batch of job search. They do pay my travel fees as well, though, so in the year I've been on the WP I've cost them about £400 already.

      The network is so bad that you can't have two windows open at once without it slowing down and taking almost 1min to load a page, which is kind of awkward when you need to have email in one window and job details etc in the other.

    4. I totally understand and emphasize, the browsers are outdated, plugins are never kept up to date, the memory is insufficient for decent use, as a result the machines keep locking up and crashing.

      They refused to let me use my laptop, stating "Data Protection" as the reason.
      It was laughable, but I had to back down.

      If I was into identity theft, I would have plenty of information already. Whatever system they use isn't working, I constantly find CV's on the systems, names, phone numbers, addresses etc.

      If data protection was that important, they would have a system that automatically clears history and files when you log off. It's either not implemented or not functioning correctly.

      The staffs knowledge of PC's doesn't go further than "where's the on button" and "what's the password", yet suddenly they were experts in data protection :)

      Anyway, all my words seem to fall on deaf or ignorant ears at a4e, there really is no point in me being there.

      It seems in order to get the money they have to be "seen" to be actively doing "something" to find me work, in reality they do nothing but record my reluctant attendance.

  9. As a current A4e staff member, I can attest to the delusional statements that you hear from Emma Harrison all the time. They are constantly repeated by management. A4e is god's gift to the planet and anyone who disagrees is completely wrong. It is almost like a cult.

    Previous programmes, for all their faults, at least had a hint of helping people. The Work Programme has completely chucked this concept out the window. It has turned the A4e's into recruiting agencies and they have never been set up to do so. I was told by a recruiting agency that deals with welfare to work vacancies, that they are avoiding people with previous experience in advising unemployed people. They are looking for people with a sales background due to the relentless targets you are supposed to meet.

    I have decided that I am leaving the sector as soon as possible due to constant, unbearable stress of trying to meet unrealistic targets.

    Can anyone please tell me how someone with a sales background can help anyone with substantial barriers in getting employment?

    1. Totally agree,when I raised a complaint about the sub,I informed the Prime,they arranged a meeting and at least they were prompt and polite,totally disarmed me,after the meeting,I felt like I had just spent 2 hours with a Time Share Sales Man and was actually unsure why I was even there or what we talked about as the subject and people changed so often.

  10. The Tories wish to make claiming Welfare so unattractive that most people won't do it. The Tories can achieve this by reducing the amount of Welfare payments, imposing draconian conditionality on each claim, limiting the period during which Welfare will be payable, and so forth. Eventually, this idea will work. The Tories want to re-define "poverty" in order to hide the real increase in currently-defined poverty that their ideology will cause.

    With the Work Programme scheme, the Tories have already decimated the W2W industry and the whole idea of W2W. Sure, for the first couple of years of the Work Programme, the Govt is forking out £400 per unemployed person, knowing that that money will go straight down the drain but, in the very short term, it will ensure that people like A4E continue to provide large numbers of offices and large numbers of staff.

    That will provide the pollies with some "window dressing" between now and 2016, when the present contracts with the Primes will expire. If the Primes hang onto their contracts for the full five years, they'll lose huge amounts of their own money. If they pull out before the expiry of the contracts, the Primes will have to pay hefty penalties for early termination. So the pollies can't lose, no matter what happens. And the pollies can blame the whole thing on the uncooperative, feckless, workshy. Etc.......

    I think that Krishnan Guru-Murthy might well be right. He asked Emma Harrison whether she believes that the Work Programme has been set up to fail?

    I reckon that KGM has asked the Killer Question. Emma Harrison is not sophisticated enough to have been able to give KGM an intelligent reply but everyone else also heard his question and is beginning to ponder, I suspect.

  11. I listened with keen interest the ramblings of Emma Harrison on the news and as a former staff member can testify that the numbers quoted are there or there abouts. Based on the fact that C4 are quoting entire company data for A4e, I would assume the numbers have come from the daily activity report that their MI Dept sent out to all Business Leaders/Team Leaders (until the first leak in June when the access to such reports were then restricted)

    For Emma to sit there and say they are wrong, but also in the same breath say she doesnt know what they are would appear contradictory?

    It would be very interesting to know how many of the Sub Contractors who started the journey with the WP are still operating (is this information available?) I know of a couple that handed their contracts back (am I allowed to name them here?) as they were deemed unworkable.

    All in all, I think it is fair to assume that we are witnessing the beginning of the end times of A4e as a major W2W player in the UK.

    When the numbers are proved to be correct, the fact that the performance is worse than if you do nothing will not be easy for Politicians to defend, and rightly so.

    Surely by going on to TV, Emma has seriously undermined Andrew Duttons attempts to restore the credibility of the organisation

    1. "All in all, I think it is fair to assume that we are witnessing the beginning of the end times of A4e"

      I so hope you are right.....but haven't we been here before ?


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