Saturday, 19 May 2012

Interview with Andrew Dutton

The Telegraph has an interview with Andrew Dutton, A4e's CEO.  It gives him the opportunity for some PR for the company but leaves unanswered the really important questions.

On Monday, says the article "a group of MPs is due to question DWP ministers on their handling of fraud allegations across the welfare-to-work industry, not just at A4e, suggesting the problem runs deeper than one firm."  Dutton wants to repair A4e's reputation and is keen to stress that "the issues we’ve faced are genuinely market issues – there’s been 126 investigations into the whole market. We’re not alone.”  The estimated cost of all the fraud is £773,000 but A4e accounts for only 9% of that.  "The silver lining, Dutton says, is that A4e now has a competitive advantage.  'My business has been completely audited. The other organisations can’t say that,' he says."  Part of the PR operation is to invite MPs and "opinion formers" into A4e's local offices.

Reading thus far, one begins to wonder whether the writer of the article, Louisa Peacock, is ever going to challenge Dutton on the real issues.  "A4e obtained jobs for 310,000 people last year," she says, "and it clearly wants to promote the figure, although Dutton does not say how many of those are still in work."  Note the phrasing.  Not "310,000 people got jobs".  The credit is all A4e's.  Some way after that we read, "Still, a damning report from the spending watchdog last week showed up to £1bn of taxpayers’ money was being spent on finding jobs for people who would have found work without help."  Peacock doesn't use this to challenge Dutton's earlier statement (nor does she pick up on the nonsense in that sentence).  Perhaps she only did the research afterwards.  Towards the end she says, "As far as is possible, it is business as usual for A4e."

It's all very helpful for Dutton and the company he runs.  But it leaves out of consideration the other allegations against A4e, about the way it treats its clients.  Business as usual indeed. 

PS.  This article was put on the Telegraph's  website at about 6.00 pm on Saturday.  By 11.45 pm it had been shortened and retitled "A4e seeks details on 'secret' frauds".  Interesting.


  1. One of the main highlights is the comment - Mr Dutton you statement of “My business has been completely audited. The other organisations can’t say that,” and then as reported - on the wall outside your office the "Wall of Fame" with the one headline screaming "How A4e has hit back at fraud allegations." Are the A4E staff expenses claims also part of this 'complete audit' and 'fraud allegations' having been 'hit back' by your company?

  2. Can someone explain what is the issue with staff expenses is? Maybe i have missed something! Surely staff can only claim mileage to and from other office apart from their own?

    1. The poster appears to have a thing about staff expenses, posting on other sites about it too. I have no idea what the issue is, and will not publish any more such comments unless I get an explanation.

  3. I think it is a shame that the DT journo has not done her research properly.

    The Public Affairs Committee plans to question Robert Devereux alone about fraud within W2W providers:

    I agree with Andrew Dutton that there should be public disclosure about which of his competitors have sinned but I can't see Devereux spilling any beanz about that!

    For the rest, the Village Idiot can work out that A4E "haven't got it right all the time."

    My own question, though, is, "What are A4E going to do about pulling their sox up and how long does Dutton expect that to take?"

    His proposed forays in to trying to diversify A4E's business are irrelevant but how about Andrew Dutton answers my own question instead? He can do that via A4E's own website if he tries.

  4. Remember the BBC R4 prog investigating the WP a few months back? Two were made in fact on the WP so I cannot remember if it was the first or second prog.

    Anyway, some suit from A4e took issue with the allegation that A4e has a bad reputation. Dunno if it was this Andew Dutton chappy.

    Fraud aside, Andew Dutton has to answer some serious questions about the state of his company. Why does it have such a bad reputation, esp amongst clients and an increasing number of staff? Why is it the poster child of bad service within the W2W sector?

    Until he addresses these points, A4e will continue to be the company it is today.

  5. The Teflon Don20 May 2012 at 14:02

    I think we need a Whistleblower Protection Programme for A4e employees. Then we should get some kind of picture of the true scale of fraud at A4e.

    i Matt: I think it was Andrew Dutton who talked about restoring A4e's good name. Had to laugh, most current and former clients know they NEVER had a good reputation.

  6. The sooner the work programme is scrapped the better. a total waste of time and money.

  7. NoWorkProgramme21 May 2012 at 07:33

    Every work programme provider should be investigated and possibly closed for fraudulent practices and giving the private sector a bad name. Low or non-staffed mandatory job shops may be a cheaper alternative and people might actually find a job if they sign in and have to job search there for an hour a week or so, but at least they can meet their obligations without being fleeced by a manipulative company that treats them like second class citizens.

    1. Surely that's very similar to the weekly Job Search sessions that A4E runs? OK, so they are making the money, but if people have been going weekly to JS sessions and haven't found a job your idea isn't going to change the situation.

      A good part of the problem is that in a recession there just are not the jobs available, and until the government's attitude to manufacturing changes the situation is also unlikely to - they need to create the jobs, rather than encouraging companies to take work abroad, or by importing products. So, WP or no WP there will still be plenty of unemployed.


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