Friday, 2 November 2012

The lull before the storm?

It's official that the Work Programme performance data will be published on 27 November.  There can be little doubt that the delay has been because the first year results have been so bad that the government wanted to get another 6 months' worth, in the hope that they show improvement.  The media are gearing up to analyse the figures and present stories about the people behind the numbers.

There's an excellent article in the New Statesman by Alan White, centring on "Why Eco-Actif went bust" but telling the whole story of what he calls UK plc.  If you want to understand how we got to this position of handing over all our services to the private sector, this is the place to start.

A story in the Guardian about Atos reminded me of something which happened with A4e more than a decade ago.  Apparently Atos, in bidding for (and winning) the £400m contract to carry out disability assessments, claimed that they would work with a number of disability organisations.  But those organisations say that they knew nothing about this (and most say that they wouldn't ever work with Atos).  The DWP isn't bothered, however.  Back in 2001 A4e put in bids for all the Business Link organisations (which were working perfectly well but which the government wanted to flog off).  In their bid for the Somerset contract A4e claimed that they had the support of local business leaders, including the leader of the Council.  This was news to the gentleman in question, and the bid had to be withdrawn.  But A4e still got the bulk of the contracts.

The dust has settled after that disastrous interview on Channel 4 News.  Emma Harrison did herself no good at all, and her company's cause has been put back.  But what really matters is whether A4e is doing what it is paid to do.  We have to wait a while to find that out.


  1. An excellent analysis of the shortcomings of outsourcing public services was done by the BBC in the File on 4 programme. Listen here:
    It does not refer to either A4e or the WP but it does show the stupidity of outsourcing public services using the justice system (translation services and tagging/monitoring) as examples.
    Margaret Hodge makes some telling comments. I am eagerly looking forward to more from her on 27/11.

  2. I really hope someone at the DWP turns whistleblower or a usb memory stick accidentally gets left on a bus train or taxi with these figure's on, then gets passed to all the TV media (Channel 4 News inparticular) before 27/11/12.

    Oh please let this happen.

    1. There's not really a lot of point at this stage, with only 3 weeks to go. Right now the media have time to get their stories together.

    2. Should this happen and show that the figures are less than the bare minimum 5.5%, then the DWP will have no choice but to admit their so-called flagship Work Programme is a spectacular failure for the 1 year 5 months since it started.

      1 year 5 months is sufficent time to judge any programme and come to a conclusion:

      The only conclusion any rationable and reasonable person could come to would be the Work Programme has failed and should be totally scrapped.

    3. The only problem is rationable and reasonable people won't make the decision, deceitful and corrupt politicians with their own agendas will.

  3. Well I kicked up a stink about the service provided by my Provider,amazingly I have an interview Monday for a job that actually pays and is in my field...Moral of this "The squeaky wheel gets the oil" After 11 months of pissing and moaning and filing my second complaint,I was asked in to review my situation,within 2 minutes the senior case manager figured it out....The Advisers (all 5 of them) are only supposed to work with the under 25yo nobody picked up that I am 48,beggers belief.

    1. Good luck for Monday. Let us know how you get on.

    2. Yes will let you know,during this meeting I brought up the fact that the "Results" will be published..a lot of groans and eye

    3. I mentioned the results to my advisor in my last meeting, she had no worries whatsoever, and was convinced that even if a decision was made to terminate the contracts, it would be a long and drawn out affair.

  4. These figures will show the results the government wants. I've no doubt of that.

  5. Can't wait to found out what they are paid to do, i've been attending a4e work programme for 10 months, all i get is a interview with a advisor, totally crap, job search sessions, which i do daily at home, i've paid my bus fares to go there to do it, half of the time the computer crashes. They don't come up with any paid job vacancies, most of the a4e employees i have spoke to, have been, like me, out of work and on the dole. What is the crack? Seems to me some people are lucky to get a job at a4e, then they are off jobseekers allowance and on a good living wage.

  6. As one of A4E's Work Programme customers, my strong impression is that A4E does not have the skills that would be needed in order for A4E to deliver the Work Programme properly.

    This is not the fault of the individual staff members in my local A4E office. They have received inadequate instructions and an inadequate budget from A4E's Directors.

    Unless the Directors pull their sox up and start delivering acceptable standards of service, A4E will continue to produce disastrously poor results for the Work Programme, as revealed recently by Channel 4 News.

    So it is up to A4E's Directors. It is within their power - and withing the £46 million of taxpayers' money that the Directors allegedly collared between June 2011 and June 2012 - to enable the Directors to run the Work Programme scheme properly, instead of trying to do it on the cheap & nasty.

    1. Judi, forget the £46 million - that was just incorporates all of the start up fee's of £600 per person reffered to the Work Programme. and that is just for starters.

      If you times that by god knows how many thousands of unemployed people, it's not hard to work out that these idiot's (Private Provider's) are making a buttload of money off the back's of the unemployed.

    2. The £46m is attachment fees - and it's £400 per starter. That would not make big profits for the providers. The payment by results model means that they don't get any more unless people get "sustained" jobs.

  7. Hi Judi
    You say: "instead of trying to do it on the cheap & nasty."

    Nasty it may be - cheap? Certainly not! I am sure that when we see the stats it won't take too long for people to work out haw many £££££ each "sustainable" job has cost. The comparisons will of course be spun one way or another according to which side of the desk you are on and it is true to say that comparisons are difficult (because of the "lagging effect" of a success being defined as in work for a sustained period), However much smokescreen is put up the statisticians amongst us should compare the actual results with those the DWP said it was looking for in its original ITT which can be found here:
    Section 3 is the relevant chapter and para 3.14 sets out the "non-intervention performance profile" often referred to as the "deadweight" figures. Basically this is 5% for the first 12 months. The low figure reflects the lagging effect.
    The next para sets out incentive payments:
    "Incentive payments will be made for jobs delivered beyond a given performance level, defined as non-intervention performance plus 30%."
    I cannot see whether this is measured by provider in total or by provider within particular contract package areas. If the latter the situation could arise where a provider (e.g. A4e) massively underperform in one area but just scrape across the incentive threshold in another - in aggregate the incentive level may not have been reached BUT a payment made for the minor success with no offsetting of the major failure - I wonder??? In practice I do not see this arising since indications would appear to be that the whole thing is failing whichever CPA you look at!
    I wonder if we're going to be given 18 or 17 month figures instead of the 12? These should be much higher since the year 2 figures range from 15% to 30% (depending on payment group). I do hope the Commons Accounts Committee and the press are capable of understanding the figures and how they work and thus holding any possible poor performance to account.
    Rant over - and "greed" not even mentioned *Doh!"

    1. "I wonder if we're going to be given 18 or 17 month figures instead of the 12?"
      As I've said before, the delay in publishing the figures is almost certainly so that they can give us 18 months' worth. Emma Harrison almost said as much in her BBC interview. I think you can be confident that some of the media will analyse the figures very carefully.

  8. Last time I went to the JC I was given a new sheet detailing everything I must and must not do to qualify for JSA, and it was pointed out to me that the reference number was different from the old one. I was also asked to do a quick survey which basically consisted of thee questions -
    Do you read trade magazines?
    Do you feel that if the JC supplied trade magazines this would help you to get a job?
    Is there anything else you'd like the JC to supply in terms of training etc?

    But, will the JCs get to supply more training or will the results of the survey be passed on to the WP providers?

  9. Hi Gissajob

    Margaret Hodge of the Public Accounts Committee is more than capable of understanding every detail about the Work Programme. So is her professional best buddy, Amyas Morse of the National Audit Office. Mr Morse is a very senior Chartered Accountant and he does not make arithmetical mistakes (unlike me!)

    Mr Morse has already said, publicly, that the Work Programme scheme cannot be made to work in its current format. He predicted that the outsource companies such as A4E will never be able to get better results than Jobcentre Plus.

    So what is the point of having a cartload of spivs riding on a gravy train?

    I can trust the JCP. They have only ever made one silly, unnecessary mistake in my own affairs but at all other times, their service has been brilliant and spot-on. Of course I was livid about the JCP's mistake, especially when the JCP Manager told me that she didn't understand why her underlings had made such an elementary, avoidable, unnecessary error. That fact is neither an apology or a viable excuse but I suppose it amounted to an "explanation" of sorts. The JCP Manager asked me whether I could sort out the mess that one of her less brilliant underlings had created? No, I felt that I would not be able to undo the mess. If the JCP rely on third parties being ultra-forgiving towards errors made by the JCP, the JCP are dreaming. The Manager said that the JCP would "do better" in future. Hopeless in terms of my future career but at least the JCP admitted their error, I guess.

    However, life goes on. I trust my A4E adviser. He has no relevant skills but he is truthful. The JCP do have the relevant skills - in abundance - but they are no longer allowed to use them, which is just plain crazy.

    I realise that getting myself into a frustrated frenzy with A4E's Directors does not help. Nonetheless, I remain furious with A4E's Directors and that will continue unless and until they pull their socks up. They *can* deliver the Work Programme scheme properly if they want to. Nobody has told A4E to compete with NASA. It is not rocket-science to get it right with the very simple scheme called the Work Programme. It should NOT be necessary for me to have to chase A4E's Directors every step of the way in order to get them to deliver the Work Programme properly.

    1. Yeah, put NASA in charge and launch A4E off into space.

      P.S. don't forget to put Emma on the rocket.


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