A4e's accounts for 2012 / 13 have been filed, but won't be available for a day or two.
The company will no doubt be hoping that it will get a big slice of the latest outsourcing pie, Community Work Placements (workfare to the rest of us). The new issue of Private Eye details the provisions and payment structure of this pernicious scheme. We knew that it would be the same companies which are involved in the Work Programme - that is government policy. But the Eye points out that there is a potential clash of interests here. Payment is in stages, for starting a placement, being on it for 12 weeks, 22 weeks on CWP or in work, and for staying in work for 6 months. It's a clear disincentive to encouraging someone into short-term jobs before the 22 weeks is up. The magazine also says that the charity sector has no use for the people who will be on workfare, and lists a few charities which have said they will have nothing to do with it. Still, the providers are allowed to put people into placements in their own businesses, so there will be a lot of that, no doubt. Many poor souls will find that they have spent two pointless years on the WP with, say, A4e, and then are given back to the same company for a workfare stint. And since the DWP itself doesn't expect more than a fifth of those on workfare to find permanent jobs, it will be relatively cheap, and therefore not particularly profitable for the providers. What is it for, then?
The fall in unemployment reported today has to be good news for those who have benefited. Even long-term unemployment is down a bit; but everybody who is on a workfare scheme is recorded as employed, so it's not as clear as it should be.