With the advent of Universal Credit, the government is persuaded of the need to provide help to those who won't be able to deal with it on their own - doing everything online, housing benefit going to the claimant rather than the landlord, etc. So they've planned a Local Support Services Framework. The document is here. It's based on the idea that Local Authorities will do it in partnership with such bodies as housing associations and voluntary bodies, and is full of buzzwords like "pathfinder". Nowhere does it mention the private sector. So it isn't excluded. And I can see nothing to stop a local council deciding to contract out the job to the likes of A4e. Cynic that I am, I suspect that lobbying is already going on.
Another concern was raised by a recent comment on another post. A chap who is not on the Work Programme, having recently been in a job, went to his Jobcentre to sign on and found an A4e employee sitting with his JC adviser, reading his personal information. That was alarming enough. A conversation followed focussing on his jobsearch skills with the Universal Jobmatch site. These can't be too bad, since he's recently applied for 50 jobs and secured two interviews. However, he was told that he would have to attend a "course" with A4e to "sharpen up" his jobsearch skills. He tried to ascertain whether this was mandatory, and couldn't get a straight answer, but the threat was there. He gave in, under protest. What disturbs me about this (aside from the data protection issue) is the possibility that this is another way of giving public money to A4e, since I can't imagine that they're running these "courses" for nothing.