Tuesday, 8 May 2012


The year so far:
  • 18 Jan  The Telegraph publishes details of A4e's accounts.  This blog does the sums and highlights the extraordinary amount of money paid to Emma Harrison.  This is taken up by Private Eye.
  • 2 Feb  Emma Harrison is guest of the day on the Daily Politics - no hard questions are asked.
  • 5 Feb  Emma Harrison is on Radio 5 Live
  • 8 Feb  The Public Accounts Committee attacks A4e, targeting the money paid to Harrison and the poor results.  This is reported in the Guardian.
  • 10 Feb  The Daily Mail picks up the story and launches a devastating attack.
  • 11 Feb  The rest of the media take up the story
  • 17 Feb  The Mail has another go at Harrison
  • 18 Feb  Reports of fraud investigation in A4e Slough
  • 19 Feb  Margaret Hodge MP calls for suspension of all A4e's contracts
  • 21 Feb  Fiona Mactaggrart MP starts highlighting reports of fraudulent practice in A4e
  • 23 Feb  Emma Harrison steps aside as government's "family champion".
  • 24 Feb  Emma Harrison steps down as Chair of A4e (but keeps her stake in the company).
  • 9 Mar  DWP announces "independent audit of all our commercial relationships with A4e"
  • 10 Mar  A4e gets two new prison education contracts
  • 22 Mar  Paul Mason reveals a leaked A4e report of 2009 which shows they were aware of widespread fraud.
  • 3 Apr  A4e is said to be the preferred bidder for the EHRC helpline contract.  This is denied.
So now what?  There was a point in February when journalists were contacting people like me to get whistle-blowing contacts, keen to run revelations.  Now, they're not interested (except for individuals at Private Eye and the Guardian).  The government has quietly stopped giving A4e any more contracts until it's safe to do so.  The DWP has kicked the story into the long grass with its investigation.  Emma Harrison has lost her public profile but not her income.  Has anything important changed?


  1. One thing important has changed.. More people are aware, We have to keep plugging away, talking to everyone. There are groups now fighting to stop the work programme, groups that didnt exist before. In addition it is showing how morally bankrupt IDS, and Grayling really are. All we can do is pass the word, document everything they do and hope that at one point with over whelming evidence that these schemes are not fit for purpose.

    Now, if these schemes actually worked, and treated their clients like people rather that a tick box, If it was run by charities rather that for profit businesses (which leads to more pressure to "Creatively Create Results".)

    1. I disagree with you about having the Work Programme or something like it run by charities. It should be run (as it was before 2006) by Jobcentre Plus, holding regional budgets and able to contract with any suitable organisation, including the private sector.

    2. I agree with you, historian. My own experience in 2004 was that the JCP were brilliant. I told them that I needed to learn how to work a modern computer. The JCP sent me to an FE College where I received the best possible tuition on an ECDL course. The quality of the service from both the JCP and the FE College was faultless and it made me become employable in an office once again. I then spent the next 4 years building up my IT skills via various employers. In 2004, the JCP really did provide a genuinely "tailor made" service, which was a real "service" and because they were able to use the best possible contractors (in my own case the FE College) the whole idea of "helping" the unemployed did actually work and it worked brilliantly.

      After being made redundant in 2008, all that I've seen is mickey mouse rubbish by way of attempts to "help" the unemployed. The IAP scheme and now the Work Programme scheme are both just a wanton waste of public money.

      Clearly, a tiny handful of individuals have made obscenely high profits out of the predominantly privately-owned, for-profit W2W Industry that only seems to have developed in the UK since about 2006.

      The fact remains though that if the JCP's own staff were put back in charge of the huge budgets that the Govt seems to be chucking at this relatively new W2W Industry, the JCP staff would actually provide a genuine service that affords much better value for public money. They've done it before and they could do it again if the Govt would allow them to do so.

      I'm sure that the DWP's own bosses realise this. The real problem seems to be a political one. I don't know whether Ministers were conned by snake oil salesmen or whether Ministers themselves decided that the public purse is a cash cow to be milked by a tiny handful of individuals, of whom Emma Harrison seems to have become the most notorious in fhe UK, but this seems to me to be where the real problem lies.

      If it were up to me, I'd give the budgets back to the JCP, apologise to them and then leave it to the JCP to put matters right.

  2. It was pretty clear that the government was never going to let A4e go and risk the future of the work programme. Even if their investigation highlights fraud you and I would certainly say was systematic, they will do their best to perceive it a different way so they can avoid taking A4e out of the picture. The last thing they need right now with all these incompetence perceptions they're trying to shake off is the idea they hired a fraudulent company in their work programme.

  3. Historian asks "has anything important changed?" No and Yes I'd say.

    No from the point of view that the govt and individual ministers such as Smith and Greyling are STILL insisting that everything is rosy in the WP / W2W garden. They are still refusing to take 'clients' views and concerns on board. The govt will be loathed to see A4e go under or even an investigation / enquiry into the company as it would leave the WP even more exposed than it is at the moment.

    However, there is a Yes to Historians question. At last people like myself who have attacked A4e for a good few years on their poor performance and questionable practices can feel even more vindicated in print and on line. For too long our views were derided, dismissed and ignored.

    Yes of course blogs (such as this one) took an in depth look into A4e's practices. The Guardian, Private Eye, BBC Radio and Ch4 News would also occasionally look into A4e's handling of ND / FND and the WP. However, many of these reports were sadly ignored.

    Now with the BBC1 main evening / night news, BBC2 Newsnight as well as the mainstream Daily Mail looking into A4e, not to mention MP's such as Margaret Hodge demanding A4e lose their current and future contracts, and Ms Harrison resigning as the govts troubled families tsar and stepping down as chair of A4e, no longer can A4e and W2W apologists dismiss peoples real and genuine concerns about how A4e operates

    1. I'd love to agree with you. However, we both know that the interest of the media is fleeting. The next time something happens the journos won't repeat all the stuff that came out earlier this year.

    2. Yep, probably true alas.

      However, one of the great things about the web is that anyone can find past articles printed in newspapers that have been archived.

      A4e / W2W / WP apologists cannot now deny that our predictions have not come to fruition.

  4. Thank you,I thought I was imagining the lack of response to the WP.I believe quite a few providers are racking and stacking,as an example my provider and their subcontractor are both achieving between 8.4% and 9.8% placement (Their own doc's) coming up on 11 months into this programme.After a recent meeting to discuss lack of training or support, I went away feeling that the meeting went well,but it was like having a chinese meal an hour later I was hungry again.I requested the use of the facilities computer and printer to copy my CV and post 12 of them,not allowed, use the public library,also this was deemed excessive and did not justify the cost,I am required to under their agreement to apply for 12 jobs bi-weekly.
    This programme is not about getting the long termed unemployed back to work,it is how to make as much,as quick before the lack of results are finally published and public find out what a waste of not only taxpayers money, but also the road blocks these providers have put up so they can fufill their own goals rather than helping people retrain in order to find proper employment.

    1. Spot on you have just summed up the work programme. "qiuck before they rumble are game"!

  5. A4e has made me want to get a job, but then not want to get a job too. I want a job for the obvious reasons and to stop going to A4e, but I know I'm stuck with them for 2 yrs whether I get a job or not. On the other hand I don't want to get a job while at A4e so they won't get any money for it, or praise and their statistics of employment, won't go up.

    1. I believe that if you don't get a job within the 2 years, then they start the contract again, with the possibility of you staying on the WP for up to 7 years.

    2. I also agree with anonymous to an extent. I absolutely loathe and detest going to A4E. They simply do not help in the slightest. I go to my appointment, she asks me what I've been doing to look for a job and that is basically it. She spends 15 minutes writing up an action plan for the next appointment and just waffles on.

      She say's that I'm expected to apply for 10 jobs every 2 weeks but to be honest I have difficulty in applying for 3 a week. I am either unqualified or the jobs are too far away for me to waste my time applying for them.

      Additionally I cannot see why people are made to go to the job search club every week. It is a waste of time. Why should you waste your time going when you can just look from the comfort of your own home.

      If and when I finally get another job then I do not want A4E to get a single penny. They will claim that it was them that got me a job when in reality they did F all. They have done nothing which benefits me and are only a hindrance.

  6. Growing up we had a postal system that worked,a rail system,a NHS,a Civil Service and Yes even the BBC produced some cracking programmes.Now privatised Rail relies on government subsidies,while those in charge draw hugh salaries,bonuses and the rail system is in chaos,another example of payment for failure.When I first signed on at JCP, it was at the start of the WP, training was being stopped as the WP would provide this,it has not happened and will not.Once this "WP" is found out what a load of New Age rubbish it is will they restart the JCP? Also talk about redundant you still have to sign on at JCP as well as the WP.

  7. Thankfully there still appears to be interest by The Press. There's an article in The Telegraph from a couple of days ago, looking at the “misdemeanors” of other providers ...... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/9247953/Welfare-to-work-providers-face-fraud-checks-after-investigations-into-wrongdoing.html

  8. Hi can we not start start someting to find out how people would run a wp kind of w2w contract? The wp actually found me my job which I start next week. My experience on wp is half the customers want to work half dont.

    What gets me is how much faith you put in margaret hodge. Has anyone looked her up. She claimed tax payers money which she wasnt allowed to. She is no better than any w2w company.

    1. I thought very hard about allowing this. Your comment about Margaret Hodge is silly and irrelevant. My concern is the w2w situation. Hodge is chair of the PAC and has gone after those wasting public money.

      I'm glad you got a job. I would dispute your assessment of the numbers who don't want to work. Yes, there are some, but not 50%. As for the design of a new w2w contract; as I've said above, go back to the pre-2006 situation, beef up the jobcentres and give it back to them.

    2. Historian, I agree with your comments, well said.

  9. Hi Historian,

    Been reading your blog, and many others with a similar theme for a while. Whilst I generally agree with most of all you say, I kind of have to agree with the above Anonymous. I luckily have a job now (nearly a year), but my trainers were NWT, basically the same as A4E and I was surrounded by mostly kids and drop outs that had no intention of finding work. Likewise when I complained and was sent to BTCV.
    Lots and lots of people are far to lazy to find work, but the people that come here and read your blog are different.

    1. This is the end of this particular discussion. You generalise from your own experience without knowing how typical that was. I'm not going to engage in an argument about this.


Keep it clean, please. No abusive comments will be approved, so don't indulge in insults. If you wish to contact me, post a comment beginning with "not for publication".