Sunday, 19 February 2012

Suspend A4e's contracts?

The nightmare goes on for A4e and Emma Harrison.  It's not clear whether the call to suspend the contracts comes via the Daily Mail, but they report it with glee.  Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Public Accounts Committee which caused all the rumpus, will be "asking the Department of Work and Pensions 'whether, given the allegations of fraud, they will be suspending their contracts with A4e until this matter is resolved'."  A Press Association piece, which may have come first, tells us that, "The allegation concerns a very small number of former employees and dates back to 2010. As the investigation is ongoing, we (Thames Valley Police) cannot comment further."  The Telegraph also reports the "fraud probe" but not the call for suspension of the contracts.  Instead they quote Chris Grayling from an interview on Sky.  Typically, Grayling said that it couldn't happen with the Work Programme (suugesting that it could happen with the previous contracts) and blamed the last government. 
So what about that call for suspension of the contracts?  Hodge appears to mean just the welfare-to-work contracts, rather than all the other lucrative stuff.  I don't think it's practical.  The most you could do is stop any more referrals until the case is resolved.  But the other providers in the areas couldn't take on those clients.  They are not geared to double their intake suddenly.  While the potential clients might be happy to see the suspension, the government probably wouldn't.  
The Express links the revelations about A4e to the whole question of bonuses in the public sector.  In an article this morning they bemoan the lack of any links between performance and pay-out and say: "In one particularly offensive example the Government’s so-called “Jobs Czar” Emma Harrison last year received an astonishing dividend of £8.6million through her company A4e, which runs a variety of state employment schemes funded by the taxpayer.  Yet for all the company’s colossal earnings its record on finding jobs for its clients is woeful. According to evidence presented to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, just nine per cent of those on A4e’s “Pathways to Work” actually ended up in work, a finding that the committee’s chair- woman Margaret Hodge called 'an outrage'."  
Can it get any worse for Harrison and A4e?  Perhaps the Daily Politics programme (BBC1, 12.00) which had Harrison on as "guest of the day" a fortnight ago, will mention what has been happening.  Somehow I doubt it.
PS.  The Guardian has cast a bit more light on the fraud investigation.   A4e is reported as stating: "Thames Valley police visited our offices on Friday for a mutually agreed meeting in relation to an allegation of fraud that was identified by A4e's internal processes and was reported to the authorities by the company.  The allegation concerns a very small number of former employees and dates back to 2010. As the investigation is ongoing, we cannot comment further."  


  1. Everytime you says how can it get worse... it gets worse LOL.. so keep on saying it ... he he he he.

    Seriously, what is i think part of the true fraud of a4e and other providers, is that some do not provide any training in computers, or certificates that sell their clients as employees. A4e for example has told me there are no courses for me to do, there is no funding for them and they wouldnt put for forward for a pttls course as they run out in 12 months. Meaning if i got it i still wouldnt have a job.

    if they did train people with valid qualifications, then that would be better for everyone.

    But to call them training when all you do is sitting at a computer reading ancient papers, that isnt training. That is the true fraud. In my experience they have never helped anyone get a job, they have said YOU need to do this, YOU do that.. They are claiming they got people the work when the true people who got them them work is the clients themselves. I think there should be an investigation into all of these work programmes and not just the oh ok its those 4 fire em.. and let a4e carry on after finding scapegoats. There needs to be an investigation and send people in to see what its like without warning a4e (who then can cherry pick and make it look good)

  2. Fraud cannot be carried out on the work programme? what about people working for next to nothing on placements, thats illegal as people are not working for even the minimum wage, and no its not "training" its working how much training does a person need to stack shelfs in poundland or tescos? how many nice people people who wont answer back will be pushed into jobs they really dont want to do? its been shown a person in a job they really dont want to do can cause illness/depression, not that the work programme providers would care, are they on bonuses? i cant say for certain but would more than likley say they are.

  3. People on "placements" is that not fraud? what happened to the minimum wage? Training some of you say, dont make me laugh.

  4. Emma has been really stupid not to realise the implications of her obscene bonus. People were bound to find out.

    Suspend her contracts for alleged fraud? If innocent then she continues to operate in the same way presumably.

    Can the Government take away her bonus? Whatever, maybe she should return most of her £8 million to the company as a good PR move.

    1. Just to make clear, Harrison got a dividend, not a bonus. She owns 85 or 87% of the shares in the company. I know it still means a heck of a lot of money!

  5. Like Ingeus this company are ripping off the Tax Payer and deceiving the Government with their Fudged figures, I have been through the programme, so I do know what I am talking about, unfortunately for them I a little more intelligent, and NO they are not pulling the wool over my eyes. I signed off rather that go through that disgusting degrading experience. I will probably loose my home and everything but I do have my standards, morals and capability intact SHAME ON THEM SHAME !

  6. A slightly edited anonymous comment: "Having served in the military for 11 years and worked for the last 31 finding myself unemployed has been soul destroying,having to submit to a 19 year old telling I need to have a work ethic and work experience was to say the least annoying,to listen how Emma Harrison abuses the system is the reason why this country is on it's knees."
    Please remember the bit about not publishing insults!

  7. Guardian Journalist Amelia Gentleman has just tweeted for anyone with information about A4e to come forward and email her - Perhaps if anyone visiting this site has first hand experience of the appalling practices then this is your chance to share. Having worked there and borne witness to unethical behaviour I have done this already.

    Email is:

  8. I wish I'd found this site before I started working for A4e. Thankfully I no longer do.

    The £234.3m accounts that they registered at the end of last year, an increase from the previous £190m, could well be down to the European Social Funded (ESF) way4ward contract which was set up to help people with a criminal record gain, supposedly, sustainable employment. The ESF has turned into a "cash cow" for a couple of british companies from which they can claim huge/ridiculous bonuses for hitting excepetionally easy 'soft targets'.

    This company along with another that I have worked for that will remain un named at this time have made an absolute fortune from the ESF and their only incentive is PROFIT not CARE/SUPPORT.

    Its an absolute disgrace.

  9. Further to my earlier email.......I have just realised that I was signed up to 'Pathways' as I was on ESA at the time. I actually found employment with A4e way4ward myself but was asked to sign a form stating that Pathways found it for me!


    The Herald has been requesting, through Freedom of Information, the names of companies involved in the provision of unpaid placements for job seekers since early last month.

    The request was turned down last week by the DWP, which said providing it would compromise the "commercial interests of both the department and those delivering services".

    The refusal said the DWP considered there was no public interest argument for releasing the information requested for what is known as the Scotland Contract Package Area (CPA). But these concerns only appear to apply in Scotland. The DWP has published the names of the companies which provide mandatory work placements in south-east England and north- west England CPAs.

    In December, the DWP revealed that in areas of south-east England such as Kent, providers of unpaid work placements include Asda, Oxfam and Pizza Hut.

    Tom Greatrex, Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton, will today lodge questions in the House of Commons asking why similar information is being withheld in Scotland.

    He will call again on the DWP to reveal which firms it is working with to deliver the Work Programme. Mr Greatrex said: "It is astounding that the DWP are refusing to release this information in relation to contracts in Scotland when the same information is available for England.

  11. Payback at last.Since the day Emma walked in my house filming Famous Rich Jobless I have never heard a thing back. I only had one letter threatening legal action as I was trying to expose her and A4E for what they were.

  12. "The allegation concerns a very small number of former employees and dates back to 2010" - From that, we can infer that a handful will be used as scapegoats and the matter will be quietly buried. As I recall, a similar exercise was undertaken when fraud was uncovered during the life of the New Deal programme.

    Is there scope for fraud within the current contracts ?
    I'm sure the backroom schmucks have poured over the fine print and found a way of making money out of it. It is about time that the Job Centre is given proper funding and allowed to operate at a local level delivering solutions for local problems. I doubt very much that Harrison has any idea what works for Wales, Scotland, or even Australia when she is lording it up in her "posh commune" at Thornbridge.

    1. When I did the New Deal I realised pretty quick that A4E's way of doing things works very well for an urban area (like where they began it in Sheffield), but where you are getting people coming in from a rural or semi-rural area it is no good at all.

  13. Just to point out as I don't think I've seen it corrected elsewhere - Ms Hodge's 9% Pathways performance quotes are pretty inaccurate. She was actually corrected in the very same meeting she made that statement - it was actually 24%. For some reason, this part of the meeting has not been quoted by the Daily Mail.....

    The whole transcript of the meeting is freely available on the House of Commons website (Ref HC 1814-i).

    It makes for an interesting read actually, especially as Ms Hodge comes across as deeply ignorant of what she is talking about.

    1. That correction has been made and accepted in many places. But the target was 30%. Hodge was running a scrutiny session, asking the questions. She was startled by the answers.

    2. Yes, I accept that - my point is that Ms Hodge's mistakes are being reported in many areas within the media as 'facts'. For a 'Scrutiny Session' she was staggeringly ill-informed - not just about A4e but about a huge amount of the subjects discussed, the transcript shows that huge portions of the meeting involved Ms Hodge being corrected by her colleagues, peers and those she had invited.

      I'm not suggesting for a moment that A4e met the 30% target on Pathways (I don't believe any of the providers did? You many know that better than I) but I do think it is a dangerous situation when errors are knowingly printed in national newspapers. I say knowingly as the quotes are directly lifted from the transcript which also contains her being corrected. 9% and 24% are quite different numbers after all.


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