Thursday, 4 April 2013

What about A4e?

That was the question asked by a friend, who noticed that this blog has veered off into the territory of welfare changes rather than focussing on the company.  There's a good reason for that.  A4e is attracting very little publicity and isn't seeking it.  How different from when Emma Harrison was in charge!
But attention needs to turn to all the companies delivering the Work Programme.  You may have noticed that in all the recent coverage of the changes, no politician has mentioned the WP.  And no journalist has asked the obvious questions.  Since the Work Programme is a failure, why are you still pouring money into it?  And why are you painting the unemployed as idle, not "doing the right thing" (and much worse), when your scheme to help them into work has proved useless?
We don't know whether A4e's finances have improved in the last 12 months.  It seems unlikely.  They are still advertising for staff in the same language as in the past.  There's an advert for an Advisor (Skills) Work Programme on the jobandtalent site (I don't know whether it's also on UJM) which talks about "individual, tailored support for each customer" and also "sales leads" and "sales calls", which is an odd way of describing contacts with employers.  We also get "A4e's DNA: Trusted, Passionate, Driven, Brave, Friendly and Caring" and "A4e's core mission is to improve people's lives".  I'm not mocking this.  It ought to be the reality.  But it's more than ever hollow, when there's no profit to be made and the struggle is just to keep the losses down.  
A4e, and all the providers, are almost certainly dealing with people who are increasingly angry and / or demoralised.  The government is determined to paint every benefits claimant as a drain on the taxpayer.  And now they have used the Philpott case to advance that idea.  As the Independent reports, Osborne is "questioning why taxpayers were funding 'lifestyles like that'".  Others are using it to call for cuts to child benefit.  And all of it after the disgusting Daily Mail opened the subject.  For a magnificent rebuttal to that, I applaud Zoe Williams in the Guardian.  


  1. Historian, as far as the Daily Mail front page in concerned, please allow me to reprint the comment I made on the Guardian's Zoe Williams article comments section:


    Enron, Parmalat, Robert Maxwell. Are we to say that owners and top execs of leading companies are all corrupt bastards because of these examples?

    A.N. Wilson no doubt had this article penned weeks ago. Lazy journalism. Indeed it is NOT journalism. It is simply opinion, albeit slightly upmarket opinion of the type you find propping up the bar.

    But more than this is the fact that his Mail article is part of the merry-go-round / revolving door system of writing a loaded article with a controversial headline. This then plants a seed in enough peoples minds for them the say the benefits system is too generous. This in turn allows govt ministers of ALL THREE main parties to suggest they are chiming with public opinion. A public opinion largely fashioned by what is written in certain sections of the media.....etc, etc, etc, etc...

    What Mick Philpott did was despicable. You will get no excuses for the man here. However, to use the death of those six children who died in one of the worst ways possible as a stick to beat a larger group is also despicable."

    The Daily Mail along with this increasingly devalued and discredited government playing a dangerous game of divide and rule. Listening to misguided and ignorant remarks on radio phone ins, at times it seems they are succeeding. God alone knows why my sister and her husband actually buy that contemptible rag!

  2. Heads up, quasi-off topic:
    BBC R4 1830 BST Thurs 04 April: New Series, Mark Thomas: The Manifesto (1 of 6).

  3. It would be an interesting situation if there was a class action suit, on behalf of 2.5+ million unemployed persons ,for slander against named individuals within the government.There would be enough evidence and witnesses - in Hansard , TV broadcasts , public meeting .... and compensation paid out by the named individual personally would help the unemployed people in the country.

    Furthermore the pressure that jobseekers have to show that they are making the effort to find a job should also apply to IDS and other ministers. They must show on a fortnightly basis what actions they are actively creating meaningful and long term f/t jobs and failure to make progress would mean their pay would be santioned for say 6 months - 5 years. This process should be a two way street. After all why does the taxpayer want to continue to subsidize ministers lifestyle if they are not performing ? They should also be heavily sanctioned for falsify statistics and covering up failures should be a criminal offence.

  4. Sick of the Work Programme5 April 2013 at 04:52

    It is sickening that A4e (and other Work Programme providers) continue to sit back and collect large amounts of public money for basically doing nothing to help people back into work. Last time I went to a 'Structured Jobsearch' session one of the advisers insisted on going over my CV with a view to me making some changes. It transpired that it isn't acceptable to mention on my CV that I have been on the Work Programme, so apparently instead I have to make up something else to account for what I have been doing recently, or employers will be 'suspicious of the gap.' This advice makes it blatantly obvious that the Work Programme is not being run for the benefit of people who are out of work, but rather for the likes of A4e. A4e clearly don't actually regard it as being a useful training programme if they don't want people to mention on their CV that they have been attending it. However, you can be guaranteed that if A4e staff want to move on to other jobs they won't be avoiding mentioning having worked there, as they will no doubt want to list all the wonderful skills they supposedly used helping people back into work (cough, cough).

    1. An "adviser" re-wrote my CV during my second appointment with the Work Programme. I'd actually written it the day before because I did not want to sit through a meeting with a stranger who would insist that my old CV was rubbish, when I knew it was perfectly adequate. I considered it would be very demoralizing.

      Later, another adviser insisted on sending out hundreds of copies of the provider compiled CV to hundreds of random organisations, with a covering letter. This was on the off chance that they would read this work of art and stampede to employ me.

      I received a few polite rejection letters, and one which was quite rude. The writer sent the provider CV back complaining about the spelling and grammar in the CV. She went so far as to highlight all of the errors on the CV.

      Obviously, I noticed these but if I had refused to send them away how would the adviser have reacted? Would I have been sanctioned for not complying with a Job Seekers Direction?

      I've been out of work for a long time. Neither the DWP or the Work Programme have provided me with any help. I have just been moved from one scheme to another. Each of these schemes are exactly the same as each other - a monotonous series of lectures on how to present yourself at interviews, and CV preparation.

      I feel under siege. I am expected to ceaselessly look for work, but there is very little work to look for. The jobs that are available are only for 16 or maybe 20 hours a week.

      These jobs were the type of things that young people did in college to fund nightclubbing; retired people did to pay for petrol to take the grandchildren out on the weekend; married women did to pay for the family holiday.

      Now, these jobs which in the past were seen as things people did for pocket money, are presented as an alternative to real, full-time employment. Of course, they're not!

      How many more times do I have to ring the same employment agencies and speak to the same people who have made it clear they don't want to employ me? How many more times do I have to sit through classes on CV writing?

      If somebody doesn't know how to write a CV then they probably need to go on a course to bring their English up to GCSE standard.

      Putting uneducated unemployed people through courses to give them the equivalent of five GCSEs would be a sensible thing to do. Sanctioning those who don't participate and who can't prove they have a learning disability is a sensible course of action.

      There is nothing sensible about the Work Programme, and there is nothing in that "black-box" except a golden egg laid by Ian Duncan-Smith. The golden egg of five billion pounds handed to providers who do nothing but skive off the sate.

  5. 'The Welfare State is there to help people who work hard'. David Cameron, April 2013.

    This statement, made by Cameron when asked about benefits, reveals the Tories ultimate objective: the complete removal of any out of work benefits and the eventual removal of the state pension.

    The implications of this statement, which has gone unoticed, are horrendous.

    We have in this country an unelected government forcing through welfare changes that they have no mandate for and that will disenfranchise the poor from the Welfare State.


  6. Peacefull mass non complience with the system. the only answer.


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