Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Untold stories

MPs and journalists, as well as bloggers like me, have been sent many stories about the Work Programme, from employees of the contractors and the clients.  When the furore over A4e broke, the stories were mainly about the earlier contracts, and the government was keen to say that it was all different under the WP.  It's now clear that if it is different, it's no better.  Some of the stories, like the one told to MP Bill Esterson, need further checking.  But there's a major problem about publicising most of these stories.  The employees need to keep their jobs; and the clients have no option but to stay on the WP.  So nothing can be published which would identify them.  And if it's all so vague that no one could verify it, then it can't be published.  And that tends to mean that the real stories don't get told.
Take the staff member who is being driven into illness by the relentless pressure to meet targets and disregard the best interests of her vulnerable clients.  If she does leave her job, the story will be denied by her employer.  
Or take the chap who battled to get information from the organisation to which he was referred about why they wouldn't pay for any training.  There's a story there I can't tell, for his sake, but it has serious implications for the whole conduct of the WP.
There has been a great deal of publicity about how discontented the charities are.  They signed up as sub-contractors and some are now regretting it, but very few feel able to flout the gagging order.  Local council groups are also involved.  
One complaint which crops up a lot from clients is the lack of skills training.  The "black box" model seems to mean that providers can do whatever they like, and Grayling said that it would mean they would do "whatever it takes" to get people into work.  But they appear to be refusing to lay out money on the training courses which would enable people to get a job.  So the "support" they offer amounts to nothing for most of the clients.
It's not just about A4e.  The stories concern all the primes and sub-contractors.  And they won't go away.


  1. The work programme is about getting people into any job, no matter how unsuitable that job may be for them, evidence shows being unhappy in a job can seriously affect a persons health, or a minimum wage job were an employee is under valuded from the start, ie say a ware house worker " Must have expience be able to ride a forklift truck, must have some supervisory experience, must be willing to work weekends at no extra, must be willing to work nights at minimum wage, just a few examples of job descriptions, ive seen advertised on the jobcenter plus website, undervalue people then wonder why people just dont bother looking for work anymore, is that right or wrong? you decide.

    1. Yep, despite Grayling's claims the service is supposed to be the best of any such scheme, it isn't.
      It isn't tailored to the individual, customised or anything like that. It is basically a shabby job agency, shuffle around your cv a bit and then take credit for a job you applied for anyway that you happen to get.
      These are the stories that are no w popping up in the media: "local mp meets with geoff on the WP who says they really helped him, even though their intervention was largely superficial."
      Or these WP providers are making deals with employers to effectively act as proxies, which i find somewhat questionable.

  2. I use my Anonymouse name on here, because I am afraid of sanctions, However I have been a outspoken person about a4e, and yes I have felt threatened by a4e for using my right to speak to the press. It is very hard and you need a lot of courage to speak out. How can people be treated like this the inability to speak out about such abuses of power leads to more abuses of power..

    1. And not only this but we also have the dishonourable Greyling spinning things for his own purposes.

      Remember the phone in I mentioned a few weeks ago? About 16 people phoned in, emailed and texted thier views about the WP. Only one fully supported it. Greylings response? "It's those who have found work through the WP who do not have time to phone in and criticisae it".

      So if you have genuine and well founded issues with the WP, it's down to your bitterness at not being found employment through the WP itself!

      Yet another cheap method of turning the failures of govt work programs, back onto the jobseeker in a crude attempt at silencing them.

    2. I would like to add to IMatt's comment, and say not only silence them but also discredit their views.

      But from what I have seen in recent month we are winning the media war. The media have discovered what many of us have known for years:

  3. On job applications online, "Whats the lowest and highest amount you will work for,? so that will be the lowest amount then. employers de value their workers so what do expect when staff take time of, are slow doing their job, lack motivation, are apathetic.

  4. MMMM thats interesting, Just had a letter from A4e, apparently I have a New adviser. First it was T, there was a clash of personalities to be charitable, She wouldnt listen to what I said. Then when she went on about what faith I had, that was odd, but then she went on about my weight, how I should get out and walk more, (she knew I had osteoarthritis of both ankles and am in constant pain but answer was walk more).. Then I moved to P, he was better, more understanding. Now I have Another Adviser, K only have to see him on May 2nd.

    I am wondering if there isn't something there, either they are passing me around to get rid of me because I spoke to the Press, or something is going on with the staff at my A4e. Very interesting..

  5. Lack of skills training. How true! Salvation Army Employment Plus categorically told me that training was completely off the table.
    Then they hand me some forms to fill in as an assessment and the first question they ask is would i be interested in self employment advice, further education, or training.

    The scheme is a scam. The subcontractors are not providing these things because they, at the bottom of the food chain, don't have resources they can or want to spare.

  6. Where does one start with the concerns about ones relationship with A4e ?

    1) One is signed up to a TWO year deal with them whether you like it or not and even that goes beyond getting a job within that period. They profit from your success in finding a job even if they have not been directly involved with the process.

    2) Evidence of jobseeking activity - if you have been working in a commercially sensitive area of work and you are seeking further work in that area then any confidencial contact with employers are logged by A4e and ultimately logged by the Jobcentre. A4e are not bound by a personal non-disclosure contract. There computer systems are linked to the Work & Pensions Dept.

    3) The advisors in A4e are constantly logging each interview with them in accordance with the framework given to them by the computer system. They are not interested in anything outside of these questions and answers. You feel processed at the end of the interview. When they start logging thing you say , they dont have any quams about any confidential nature of what you are tell them. They are so busy typing the information in to the A4e datbase.

    3) A4e's system is more important than you. It is not a tailored system. There are timescales and requirements not set to suit your situation.

    I would say there is a major scam going on and both the jobseeker and the taxpayer are loosing out big time. How can one shake A4e off as I do not want them involved in my jobseeking activities ?


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