Thursday, 8 November 2012


Jonty Olliff-Cooper seems to believe that A4e's problem is its image.  If only people knew the company better, and understood what it does, they would see how wonderful it is.  This is, essentially, the mistake made by Emma Harrison.
It's not a good idea to try to psychoanalyse someone you've never met.  But it always seemed to me that Harrison's image of herself was bound up with her image of the company.  "Improving people's lives" and being "passionate" about everything was how she saw herself, and A4e was supposed to reflect that.  She cannot have been unaware that the reality was rather different.  There was plenty of publicity over the years; the reported bad conditions in the Manchester office in 2008; the Benefit Busters programme showing bullying and time-wasting in the Hull office; the Radio 5 Live programme; and so on.  But none of that altered her perception.  She was the charismatic leader of a company that was doing good, and both government and the media encouraged her in that belief.
Olliff-Cooper seems to have a similar outlook.  If A4e had more "exposure" people would see how valuable its work is.  If critics would only talk to him, and come and see for themselves, they would stop criticising.  It's not surprising, given his background in Tory politics, that he doesn't see any fundamental objections to the outsourcing business, and his job, in part, is to promote it.  But he ought to realise that shedding light on the companies involved is dangerous. G4S has just lost a prison contract and has not made the shortlist for a number of others.
Over the years A4e has spent millions on marketing and PR.  Was it money well spent?  It won't count for anything when the performance data for the Work Programme comes out.


  1. If I remember rightly Jim Jones,The Moonies and L Ron Hubbard also preached that sort of mantra.

  2. I've been on the Work Programme almost 5 months now and I've been seen a grand total of 1 time.
    At 3 months I went to the first session, the "about me" appointment. It went ok and I was told a letter would be sent out the following week for the next appointment. I did receive a letter five weeks later but it wasn't from A4E, it was a letter from the jobcentre wanting to know why I didn't attend the "about me" appointment and telling me I could be sanctioned.
    I got back in touch with the jobcentre with proof that I attended and the decision came down in my favour. It was such a relief as I was thinking I was going to lose my benefit for 3 months.

    Now as I understand it A4E would have had to tell the jobcentre that I never went to the appointment right? Is this type of error common? Its got me worried as its almost 5 months now and no new appointment. I'm expecting a letter to come through the door any day now saying "why didnt you attend such & such appointment" and I've never received a letter telling me to come in. (If this happens how can you prove you never got a letter?)
    It doesn't help that a few weeks back while signing on the advisor asked me how I was getting on at A4E. I told him what it was like and he replied that he's lost count of the amount of people he's had sat in front of him saying they never received an appointment letter from A4E and are now facing sanctions.
    I'm finding it a very worrying time being on the Work Programme. Do A4E have an image problem? you bet they do.

    1. Email your 'advisor' every Monday morning without fail to double check if you have any appointments with them that week.

      'to avoid confusion.'

      Request a read receipt, but even if you don't get one, or any response at all file your email away for future reference.

    2. That's good advice. BTW, I never get any reply to emails I send to A4E, even when I have requested it "to make sure you are getting my emails"

  3. Cooper needs to realise that a company's image can be shaped in part due to its performance. So in one sense, A4e DOES have an image problem. However, to simply say that it's because people do not understand A4e and what it does is topsy-turvy thinking at best.

    It's preciecely BECAUSE people understand A4e why the company has a bad image. This understanding of A4e comes from first had direct experience of the outfit. A4e's poor image is largely of their own making.

  4. They did that with me, it took a good 2-3 months for me to finally receive an appointment and in the end I had to ring and chase them myself because my advisor said that I might face sanction if I didn't.

    I also remember when I had finished the year long course they wrote up a review diary with dates or something like that (to hand over to the job centre?) and they made it appear that I had been attending and that they helped me with CV and stuff during that period of inactivity.

  5. Anyone received one these:Skills for job study.We are writing to ask you to help us by talking part in a telephone survey of people who have recently completed work-related training courses.The study is for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and European Social Fund (ESF) and is being carried out by IFF Research,an independent research company.The study is an important,as the results will help the Government and the European Commission to decide what types of work related training courses to fund in the future, and improve the services they provide.Still on the Work Programme at A4e.If everyone whoever attended A4e answered this survey. i don't think A4e would receive another penny.More info at

  6. I'm now facing a similar problem as Jim. I have been sent some silly letter asking me why I did not attend some appointment. What appointment? I did not receive any letter. @anon its not our responsibility to keep up with appointments we have no interest in, that's A4E's job. What are they getting paid for?


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