Let's not get carried away. Emma Harrison is no longer Chair of A4e, but amidst all the media coverage only two papers point out that still owns almost all of the company. If she hangs on to those shares she can still continue to make a great deal of money, if not from the Work Programme then from all the other contracts. The Financial Times quotes Jim Carley, a consultant to the outsourcing industry, saying that she will probably want to sell if she's not involved any more, and that A4e is "one of the few companies out there that is still buyable".
Andrew Dutton, A4e's CEO, is putting in place a review of the whole company and its processes by a top law firm. Talking of the fraud allegations, the Telegraph has a mysterious paragraph: "Sources said police are aware of allegations that the fraud went higher up the chain of command than the four front line staff that have already been arrested, although not to the top of the company." The Telegraph reckons that there's more to emerge over the weekend.
Maybe. But the Daily Mail is quite hysterical. They put online two articles. The first claims the credit for her departure: "She resigned as chairman of A4e four hours after the Daily Mail warned it was to publish claims of 'rife' corruption at the employment firm." It goes on: "A whistleblower claimed that champagne was lavished on successful staff while forged signatures and blank timesheets were ‘routine’ techniques used for bumping up the numbers of successful job placements." The second article details those allegations, giving five minutes of fame to ex-employee Tracie Spiers. She describes what anybody in the industry would see as a mixture of poor practice, incompetence and deliberate fraud.
A4e brought the techniques of sales teams to the business, completely inappropriately. Some staff are actually on commission, getting paid for every job outcome. There are prizes for successful teams; from the champagne described in the article to holidays. This pressure can lead to the fraud of forging signatures on job outcome forms. The interests of the clients have vanished. The forging of timesheets smacks of sheer incompetence. It was perfectly possible to devise a system for getting those timesheets updated daily and signed off on Friday. Failure to do that leads to fraud.
In the past A4e has been quick to threaten whistle-blowing staff with legal action. The tide of such allegations may well be unstoppable now.
A4e will certainly change. The cult of personality will go, for one thing. But Dutton will have to look at changing the whole ethos of the company, with good staff training and better management. We will have to wait and see.
See, I am unemployed, i do my job search, i phone agencies, i do everything i can to get a job but there are only so many jobs you can apply for, and what are you going to do for the rest of the time, watch jeremy kyle or maury and the others.. or you fight for your rights.ReplyDelete
Now as more and more people keep getting put onto these schemes they are realising what a waste of money it is, and some of these people are very clever, accountants, people with degrees, and people who may not have academic qualifications. But we are all in the same boat, we hate that we are being bullied, called job snobs, so what happens you have a pool of 3 million people who have time and contacts friends of friends and we are spreading the word. In Truth i think the dwp and governement (both parties are equally bad as each other), and the press have made us more militant. Because we are callled lazy, job snobs, scroungers there is only so much that we can take and this workfare and the treatment we get is the last straw. The unemployed are forgotten we are just things that politicians use to get more votes. They say hard on benefit scroungers, but they forget most of the people on benefits are decent humans who try their best but it may not be their fault they are unemployed. But the unemployed are all considered to be the same that the decent man down the road who has been made redundant 2 years ago after working 40 years in the same place is the same as these benefit cheats/scroungers. This is the biggest problem the ones who try their best and get nothing are getting annoyed/angry at the way others treat them. A4e, serco, ingues and all the others that treat people are just numbers as if its your fault they are to blame for all this publicity.
The autocratic nature of A4e combined with a complete lack of controls, oversight and extremely poor staff have inevitably led to this.ReplyDelete
A Considerable body of Internet chatter exists of the bullying, threatening and unhealthy environment that is A4e.
An organisation that if the chatter is to even be remotely believed is one where 'customers' are treated like mere dirt.
What is interesting is the other major providers (such as Ingues) whom I believe to be competent and professional receive little negative press.
This leads to that old proverb, "You reap what you sow".
Keep up the good work - it does not go unnoticed.
If there is any good to come out of this then maybe A4e might clean up there act. Even just a little bit. The Work Programme as a whole seems to be unraveling.ReplyDelete
A4e is littered with poor and incompetent management, but why do you need to be good when money is thrown at you for doing a bad job?
It is reckoned that the company is worth £200 million! Who would have this sort of money and in view of the bad publicity, who in their right mind would want to buy it?ReplyDelete
Jim Coley who was with a4e for eight years and set up his own company envisages possibly merging it with his own.
Make a note in your diary!. Margaret Hodge is on the Any Questions panel, Radio 4 next Saturday lunchtime.ReplyDelete
A4e is a tainted brand. Even if another company was to buy it assets, A4e as a name will disappearReplyDelete
I was out of work for over 1 year (I was not in receipt of benefits because I was self-employed and wife works, only got NICs paid) and was referred to Ingeus under the work programme. I got a letter from Ingeus giving me an appointment, but before the appointment I got a temp job and so phoned Ingeus to cancel. First they made it difficult to cancel saying my benefits would not be reinstated (don't get any), then I could get bus fares, uniform. I said no and insisted on cancelling. Then I got calls from local office with the same story. Unfortunately I said who my employer was. Anyway a few weeks later I got a call from Ingeus HQ asking for feedback from my meeting with their consultant. I said what meeting and they said the one I had with XXX on YYY. I said I've never had a meeting with Ingeus. There was silence on the phone from Ingeus. Every few months I get a call to see if I'm still employed. So they £400 for a meeting I didn't attend and advice I never got and they'll be claiming more £00's because I'm still in a job!ReplyDelete
If you didn't turn up and sign something, then you are not on their books. Write to your Jobcentre, to the person who referred you, and copy it to Ingeus, setting out clearly what happened. Say that you want written assurances that the mistake has been rectified. And tell your employer about it, so that he or she doesn't sign any paperwork.Delete
Thanks for the advice. So for me "to be on their books" and for them to claim the initial £400 I should have signed something (which I didn't)? The Ingeus advisor has clearly lied and told her HQ that I had a meeting with her and possibly falsified documents. She's phoned recently to check if I'm still working at the employer I told her back last year. I'm at a different employer now and I've ignored her calls and if she catches me I shall not be telling her of my new employer. I read recently that they could be able to claim over £4,000 over 2 years if I stay in employment. This is tantamount to fraud. What would happen if I became unemployed again? Would the Jobcentre refer me back to Ingeus?Delete
We are not claiming that fraud or lying has taken place. The Teflon Don may well be more aware of current processes than I am, and no signature was required when you were referred. Put everything in writing. Was your Jobcentre aware that you'd got a temporary job? Did you sign off before the date of your appointment? It's important to get everything clear and dated.Delete
I signed on at the Jobcentre on the Tuesday (and they said they had to refer me to Ingeus), got and accepted a job offer on the Wednesday and called to sign off on the Friday all that week. Got a letter from Ingeus the following week and I called straight away to cancel appointment. I was firm with them and explained that I had found a job without their help and would not be attending their appointment. But still their local office contacted me and I let slip who I was going to work for. The adviser called me a couple of months into work i.e. Nov 2011 and now only last week. (must coincide with claiming payments from Gov.). I've not returned her call. I'm working for a different company now and hope it will be permanent and I won't be telling her who it is. I know you're not claiming fraud or lying, I am accusing her of at least lying to her own company. No doubt so Ingeus can claim money from the Gov and her to receive a bonus.Delete
I still think this is more likely to be muddle than anything else. Your referral to Ingeus went through before you had signed off. If your signature isn't actually required on anything then this may have been put on the system wrongly and is now set in stone. Do as we suggested with the letters. Go to the CAB for advice on how to do that.Delete
Anon at 11.07. Once you'd been referred to Ingeus, the DWP would have sent all your personal information to Ingeus.ReplyDelete
I recommend you follow Historian's advice. Ingeus clearly believe you are their client, when in fact you had only been referred to them.
The Mail are no longer accepting comments on the Emma Harrison/A4e story for legal reasons!ReplyDelete
I'll tell you what te actual issue is, the country is on its afar because of the handouts it has been giving. Now I am not saying that there are people that don't need that support because there quite clearly is, however what I object to is those certain individuals that use the benefits system as their way of getting "wages". What is so hard to understand that the country has no money left to be handing out to those people and that they need to start paying back into society. The UK is one of the only countries that hand out money and most should think themselves lucky that they dot live in a county where benefits are as easy to claim as they are. For the people calling the placements as " working for free" no it's not working for free its working for your actual benefits and some of these people find it invaluable work experience as they find it hard to find opportunities to learn skills. Tell you what why don't we just all stop working then there would be sweet fa money in the pot to be used as handouts, then where would we all be.ReplyDelete
Wasn't it only a couple of weeks ago that the media themselves were being slated for doing wrong, it will be other company in the following weeks.
As for you people saying that all a4e employees are corrupt well your talking crap u cannot tarnish them all with the same brush just because of a couple of idiots. They don't mention in the press all the good a4e has done and how many of the unemployed they have got into work and are still working, or those people that needed not just employability help but needed personal help, yeah let's just forgot about all that, cause we all no that good news means nothing to today's blood sucking media.
How many unemployed people would have found work without the help of A4e, how many of the jobs might have been better or worse, you cannot say. What I can say is that I have been to many A4e offices and none of them have something you cannot get at your local library with the possible acceptation of some quite, some nice surroundings and a little less oppression. There is no way you can say with 100% certainty that had it not been for A4e the people they found jobs for would still be out of work. I would think that left to their own devices most of the people who A4e have claimed they got back into work would be in work anyway.Delete
What about all those people that don't want to work should they be allowed to carry on claiming benefits? I think not why should everyone else have to pay for their apparent lack of respect for all the rest of society. I also have been to several a4e offices and most of he staff do a damn good job ( they are just people too, not machines). Yeah there are professionals out there that are perfectly capable of getting their own Job, however most of the people I have come into contact with have been Unemployed for 12 months or longer that's when I start questioning their actual work ethic. Yeah it is more difficult to find a job in today's environment. It's called a recession What about all those that have not got a clue how to do jon search and hare using the same methods over and over again and expecting different results, now that's what I called insanity. Or those young people that have come out of school and never worked and there parents don't work, how are they supposed to find work if they haveDelete
A) never ha a cv or have no ideas what one is
B) have never job searched and would not have the first ideas how to look for work
C) if they did manage to get an interview, most would have not had one of these before or even have the confidence to give a good interview.
Yeah again a I have said there are perfectly capable people out there they don't need help but again my question is why has it taken them I've 12 months in benefits without finding work and are still searching?
a) no ideas how to look for work
Things may have changed, it might have just been my school. Towards the end of secondary school before leaving we had a couple of weeks of CV writing skills, interview techniques and they you know what we went out and did placements and work experience - unpaid. Saying it does not happen without A4e is not strictly true.Delete
Three times with A4e, Three times they used my CV as proof of a good cv, I have taught other clients there how to use the computers, I have brought in my own newspapers as a4e didnt bring any in. So AnonymousFeb 25, 2012 11:48 PM, you are blaming the unemployed for not getting a job, because there are "millions of jobs out there", Lets put all the unemployed into government work camps.. hang on.. that was tried once before wasnt it???Delete
I taught and helped others when i was in a4e. because their staff were too busy. I was promised training, i was promised funding for a Pttls in teaching computers (where i know i could have walked into 4 jobs) but no money for it. I was promised work experience did i get it NO, i was promised they would help get me interviews.. did i get it NO.. Three times under new deal, flexible new deal, and work programme.
So Anon (Feb 25, 2012 2.13pm) you think people should be "paying back into society". Have they committed a crime of some sort? Should they be contributing to the corporate worlds profits?Delete
You say there is no money left YET this govt alone has spent £5bn on the Work Prog. Which like the New Deal, Flexible New Deal and Pathways to Work before it is failing to hitits already low targets.
No doubt you applaud A4e and its ilk making money exclusively at the expense of the tax payer. Why is this? If you think A4e do such a good job, I really do question your basic judgement along with Grayling, Duncan Smith, Cameron and Clegg.
Can you not see what this blog and others such as myself have been saying about A4e for YEARS now??!!?? I suggest you spend a couple of days looking back through this blog, as well as other sites to see just what former clients think of the 'help' they got from A4e.
learn the facts before speaking. Copied over from the last government's Flexible New Deal, one of the central ideas of Iain Duncan Smith's Work Programme is "mandatory work activity": up to 30 weekly hours of faux-employment spread over 28 days, during which people have to do work "of benefit to the community" in return for their jobseeker's allowance of £67.50 a week. If they decline the offer of "experience" paid, in effect, at a rate of £2.25 an hour, or fail to make a go of it, their benefit can be stopped – for a minimum of three months, and six months if the transgression is repeated.Delete
Anon at 02.13: Poundland and their ilk, it could be argued, are the worst abusers of the benefit system.ReplyDelete
Poundland enjoyed profits of £31m in 2011. Don't you think they can afford to pay proper wages instead of sponging off the UK taxpayer.
I was a manager at A4e and once attended a management conference at T. Hall in the mid 2,000s. One member of the audience asked a question to Emma H about corporate social responsibility and what A4e were doing about it...to which she replied "b******cks, we are a CSR company". The question was about what A4e were doing outside of what they were being paid to do (which is the basis of CSR) and to Emma this was outside her frame of reference. To her, if it aint paid for it isn't worth it.ReplyDelete
I was one of the good guys. I have actually whistle blew on another company I worked for that was dabbling in what I consider to be fraud and took them to a tribunal under public interest. I reported this to DWP and they were not interested so it just goes to show that as long as the private companies get their money, the dwp their numbers and the ministers with their reduced unemployment lists then it doesn't matter and the only people that come out of this worse off is the people these progarmmes were designed to help.
Good for you!Delete
In about 2003/4 I went to an A4e managers good ideas day and an idea I came up with was getting rid of bonuses-they wanted to burn me at the stake. I explained, being Systems Thinker, that bonuses like hierarchy make for a very unstable organisation as the whole of a company is directed ny the whim/greed of a few people. Never more so than a few years later when an organisation called "the earth" came to grief by the greedy few. But you know it strikes me that these politicians and gredy business people must think we are all so stupid.ReplyDelete
By the way - don'k aske Emma about T. Hall Christmas puddings!!!!
Copied over from the last government's Flexible New Deal, one of the central ideas of Iain Duncan Smith's Work Programme is "mandatory work activity": up to 30 weekly hours of faux-employment spread over 28 days, during which people have to do work "of benefit to the community" in return for their jobseeker's allowance of £67.50 a week. If they decline the offer of "experience" paid, in effect, at a rate of £2.25 an hour, or fail to make a go of it, their benefit can be stopped – for a minimum of three months, and six months if the transgression is repeated.ReplyDelete