Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A comment from the past

I've been deleting quite a few comments lately.  But one comment, from September 2009, I didn't either delete or publish; I just saved it.  Now, I think, it's time for it to see the light of day.
I set up a website in 2008.  After a year or so I suddenly found that a pusillanimous web host had bowed to A4e's claim that it was "defamatory" and closed it.  I had no opportunity to find out exactly what was supposed to be defamatory, let alone remove it.  All I could do was retrieve as much material as possible and set up again.
In September 2009 New Deal was turning into Flexible New Deal, and A4e had embarked on a marketing exercise, a road show entitled "Know Hope".  A friend in Hull saw it, and I published a short piece on 24 September.  That same night a comment came through, which I now publish in full:

"This site never fails to amaze with any attempt to try and badmouth the work A4e is doing in any capacity.  The fact is that A4e have campaigned for a new way of working after listening to clients who did not like the system under New Deal.  Flexible New Deal is an entirely new way of working where people are given a personal career coach and a structured plan over twelve months where A4e have the time and resources to assess exactly what their needs are. This has taken years of research and work with the government with the aim on improving services to help the hardest to reach.  The Know Hope Campaign is nationwide and the reason for A4e logos and branding not taking centre stage is that the emphasis is mainly on the client - Their Journey and getting them back into Sustainable Employment.  The majority of people in Hull were really enthusiastic about the changes and the new way of working. A4e are taking feedback on board and trying to make a difference. No company is perfect but A4e staff are all passionate about getting people back into sustainable employment and trying to make a difference.  A4e have tried to communicate with the person who leads this negative site to try and establish exactly what happened to make them launch this incessant tirade against the company.  We help so many people every day and there are so many positive stories that would do so much more good instead of this constant stream of negativity and accusation.  A4e want to aspire to inspire and empower people to leave benefits and improve their own lives. This is not corporate spiel but actually how everyone feels in the organisation and strives to make a difference in an economic climate that is hard to maintain a positive outlook in.  We want people to Know that there is Hope for them. It does not matter if you have barriers to employment - under Flexible New Deal we are here to make a difference.  No doubt this will be interpreted in a different way if it is even posted. But suffice to say A4e are sick of trying to find out exactly what your issue is with us. We have tried communicating and talking sense to no avail.  We genuinely want to help people - can you not find it in your heart to give us a break and see the good we can do?"

I was gobsmacked by the sheer mendacity of this.  They had never "tried to communicate", unless getting a website closed was communication.  They had never tried to find out anything.  How could they?  So what was the point of this comment?  Did they really expect me to publish it?  Probably not, but maybe they hoped it would slip through.  And who were "they", anyway?
Ah well, time moves on.


  1. Thank you very much for your blogs, historian. I only started reading this website very recently, after the media started to make a fuss about Emma Harrison and A4E.

    As one of A4E's Work Programme customers, the recent media attention to A4E has made me uneasy. I had realised that the whole Welfare-to-Work industry is a gravy train but I had had no idea about the obscene size of the profits involved for some of the primes.

    I also hadn't realised something that you published yesterday, saying that these Work Programme contracts are outcome-driven, not service-driven. The mendacious cynicism of the Government appals me just as much as the rest of the Welfare-to-Work industry now that you have started to show me what is really going on in this game.

    I hope that this website will not be closed down because I need the information that you are providing and I am sure that thousands of other people agree.

  2. Ah...(or should that be Aaaarrrgh) the word 'passionate comes up again'. An old favourite of Ms Harrison and many of A4e's staff.

    Funny how the 'bigged up' FND in the past, which is now pretty much discredited. The very same word could be used by A4e et al to support the failing WP.

    "Flexible New Deal is an entirely new way of working where people are given a personal career coach and a structured plan over twelve months where A4e have the time and resources to assess exactly what their needs are. "

    Sorry, but this does not match the experiences most have had on FND. Many were still stuck in a room for 25-30 hrs a week for 13 weeks. Just like the previous ND.

    I wonder if this person would reply commenting on why they feel A4e is in the pickle it's in if they did such stirling work in the past.

  3. A “Social Purpose Company”?

    A4e is notorious for its now threadbare pretentions to being a “social purpose” company.

    It's worth reiterating this. Why?

    The Guardian arguably is the moral beacon amongst our papers for social affairs. If it can put this in print - it really says it all.

    The mendacious nature of that spin is I agree nauseating and is reflective of much of the farcical nature of the company.

    The Government made a huge mistake here. I cannot see how A4e nor Ministers can evaporate a now growing national scandal.

    When are heads/contracts going to roll?

  4. I am Ben T; Ex Manager A4e

    Well done! I just want to say how good this site is. where on this site can I upload my whole experiences working at A4e?

    I worked across sites and with development. Rarely did Managers see clients as humans but as widgets to process and if widgets didn't play (standing up for their rights and dignity)they were discarded as imperfect inputs. There was also a divide between trainers (some were good in difficult circumstances and some didn't care) and recruiters who were idealised for making the numbers.

    Not to mention DWP turning their back on what I consider was fraud (but that was another company)I whistle blew and all they seemed to dowas to ignore it.

    1. In answer to your question, you can't. But there are journalists out there who just might be interested in your experiences. Send me your email address (not for publication, obviously).


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