Wednesday, 1 December 2010

ESF contracts - secret performance data

There's an article in today's Financial Times by Cunthia O'Murchu which points out that A4e has had €60 million of public money since 2007 for programmes in the UK and Poland, as well as £700m for its welfare to work programmes funded by the UK, but we can't know how well it's doing on its EU structural fund contracts because the UK government won't release data on individual companies. However, the article cites projects in London where data is available and which show A4e to be performing very badly. One £2m contract was supposed to help 400 people into work, but after a year only 14 people had found a job. Another £820,000 contract for learning and skills was also reported to be underperforming. A4e rejected the criticism and gave different figures. The FT tried using FoI requests to get the data for the EU-funded programmes, but was refused, despite the fact that 2 million people have been enrolled on them in the UK. The article goes on to highlight the poor performance of A4e, along with Reed, on the Pathways programme. But then it cites an Ofsted review which says that A4e is not alone; all the providers were failing to achieve job outcome targets.
This sits rather oddly with the blythe optimism of Emma Harrison.

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