I've been waiting to see whether Private Eye would cover the A4e fraud case. It has. But it's a short piece which adds little or nothing to our understanding of the case. It does say: "The fraud was blatant; the prosecution described, for example, 'a completely false file showing the individual's contact and training sessions with A4e'. After a new employee blew the whistle, audits uncovered the scale of the fraud, which had also involved people being offered 'shopping vouchers' to pretend they had got jobs through A4e."
We can expand on that. One employee (we'll call her AB) was training another, transferred from another office, on the particular Inspire contract. This employee told AB that fraud was widespread among her former colleagues. AB reported this to management and this put in train the internal audit by A4e. Which one of these two employees should be described as the whistle-blower is not really important. The investigation subsequently uncovered the scale of the fraud. The irony is that AB ended up as one of the convicted - for falsifying her own file. She had been taken on by A4e after applying for a job with them through Inspire, and a file was then created to show, falsely, that she had been on a programme with A4e so that a job outcome payment could be claimed. AB (not knowing any better, she later claimed) signed the paperwork which had been compiled by another of the convicted. Having read some of the evidence presented in this case, I have to say that it would confuse anyone who isn't au fait with the way these paper-based contracts worked.
That there was a climate of fraudulent activity in this contract is clear. That the incentive to do this was the financial rewards offered by the company is also clear. And one does wonder why A4e didn't acknowledge that the investigation was triggered by a whistle blower. If the A4e media relations person who gave me her phone number the other day and invited me to contact her (not something I would ever do) would like to comment openly here she will be welcome. A4e has dropped the system of individual bonuses, but confirms that they offer team bonuses. Quite how that would prevent this type of fraud isn't clear.
PS: There is a great deal to say about benefit sanctions at the moment, but I'll deal with that in a separate post.