A4e have a page on their website headed "The Facts Behind the Coverage" and they've recently updated it. It's a valiant attempt to deal with what they see as misinformation, and some of it, we would have to concede, is justified. Some of it, however, is open to debate.
They talk about their performance. They have "outperformed the market average on meeting performance targets" on previous programmes. Yes, but they nowhere near met those targets. The fact that nobody else did either doesn't help much. As for the Work Programme, they are "operating in line with our expectations". But we don't know what those expectations are. On value for money they say, "For every £1 spent by the Government on our Work Programme services, we deliver back £1.95 in revenue to the taxpayer." It's very difficult to see how they justify that statement, especially as they point to the payment by results model and say "we don’t get paid if we don’t succeed". They actually get paid £400 for every starter, regardless of outcome.
Turning to the fraud allegations, they point out the "positive findings" of the investigation by the DWP and the SFA. This is something which the public are not allowed to know about. All those many people who put in FoI requests to see the results of this investigation were told that there were excellent reasons for refusing. In talking about the Public Accounts Committee meeting in May they say that there were 6 whistle blowers. They reiterate that "the majority of allegations made by Mr Hutchinson are unfounded and untrue", which is convenient since he's the only one who has been identified. And I don't think they are taking him to court. What about the other 5? Were they lying too?
A4e, like all the providers, are keen to focus on the Work Programme and put the past behind them. The WP has raised major issues about how clients (I refuse to call them "customers", as if they had purchasing options) are treated, but the black box model, and lack of inspection, mean that the companies are not held to account for this. It's all hanging on the numbers - and we're not allowed to know about them yet.