Friday, 24 May 2013

What's happened to A4e?

That was a question a friend asked me recently.  And then a rather rude anonymous commenter said more or less the same thing.  The answer is, I don't know because it's all gone very quiet.  There were two recent ads for jobs with A4e in the prison education service in the south of England.  They're using the agency Randstad to advertise these jobs, which means, unusually for A4e, that the salaries are given.  But that's about it.  Nothing more has been heard about the Slough fraud case.  Over the course of a year, from February 2012 to February this year, a total of 11 people from the Slough A4e office have been arrested over allegations of fraud that were apparently brought to light by A4e itself.  The legal process in this country can grind very slowly, but this is getting a bit silly.  No more financial information is available; accounts and returns are only published once a year.  The last lot showed the company in deep trouble.  And A4e is definitely not courting publicity at the moment.
There are contracts out there.  G4S have just got the contract to run two support centres for rape and sex attack victims in the West Midlands.  But most of the action is in areas of activity where A4e doesn't have a track record, and the pickings are slim.
There's a lot riding on the Work Programme for the company.  Unless they have started making a reasonable profit they're really in trouble.  We'll have some indication of this next month.


  1. I guess they're busy arguing behind the scenes for more money for the Work Programme (dyslexia cured!). They may also be putting together bids for the probation outsourcing work (lots of cutting and pasting to do there girls and boys). Then there's a lot of work to be done coming up with excuses for lamentable performance (OK team let's think out of the box on this one! Any ideas? Hmmmmm!). Guess the latter applies to all the "providers" and they will be coordinating their response through ERSA and taking lessons off IDS as to how to mangle statistics.
    "G4S have just got the contract to run two support centres for rape and sex attack victims in the West Midlands". Whatever next? Words fail me.

  2. Thank you for the update.

    If my recent visits to A4E are anything to go by then they're really on the rocks.

    Not enough working pens, no white board markers, a lot of people off sick etc. etc.

  3. Sick of the Work Programme25 May 2013 at 02:36

    I can't see A4e making a good profit on the Work Programme because the entire Work Programme model is flawed. However, as you have pointed out, perhaps other providers are more likely to survive because they have got their fingers in other pies. I suspect that the next release of Work Programme figures will demonstrate that it continues to be a failure- in view of this, there ought to be a massive rethink, but it is likely that IDS will stubbornly try to continue the Programme in its present form.

  4. The Major Projects Authority (MPA) has given 32 projects a red or amber/red rating, meaning they are deemed unachievable or in doubt.

    The Cabinet Office welcomed the report and said it would lead to improvements.

    The MPA was established in 2010 in a bid to turn around the civil service's "lamentable record" of delivering large schemes.

    Its report warns that billions of pounds of public money could be at risk because of delays and inefficiencies in delivering key projects.

    Some 23 schemes given an amber/red rating, meaning their successful delivery is in doubt and urgent action needs to be taken, include some of Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith's welfare reforms.

  5. My 2 years at A4e will be finished soon & I haven't had one interview while I've been there and I've been applying for any full time job I can do, so I think I can say with complete confidence A4e is no help to me.

  6. My 2 years will soon be up too, All I see at a4e is a disorganized mess.
    They haven't helped, they have only hindered, I'm not an individual at a4e I'm just another number.
    It's soul destroying when all my personal skills and abilities have been totally ignored in favour of generic mind numbing "courses" to improve my "abilities" to get a job.
    What they don't seem to realize is if you have a certain level of intelligence confidence and ability this process degrades you.
    I've been told I now have to attend a course run by Elmfield Employment Services for 4 weeks everyday 10 till 3, in a room full of reluctant individuals.
    The whole process seemed to be a last minute arrangement, I wasn't sent a letter about the appointment I received a phone call 2 days prior.
    It's called an Upskilling Programme and once again it promises to give me skills that I already have, I don't need this course but as choice...Mandatory.

    I did a little research on Elmfield Employment and surprise surprise, they have also been in the news.
    Providing useless courses and achieving massive profits in the meantime.

    Maybe a4e are finished and they know it, this is a last ditch attempt to squeeze as much as possible out of the system, who knows.

    All the interviews I've had have been off my own back, I've done everything and had a4e crawling all over me for the details.

    It stinks it really stinks.

    I may be fortunate enough to have found some temporary work 4-6 weeks, or even an option to turn it into a work placement, anything, ANYTHING to avoid this final course being forced on me.
    Failing that..I will take the sanction and keep my sanity.

    The air of panic and disorganization in the a4e offices seems to be more than usual, there could be lots going on in the background we are not aware of.

    Thanks for this blog, is is of incredible help to understand what actually is going on and why I am being treated this way.

    1. Hi Richard. You say:
      "The whole process seemed to be a last minute arrangement, I wasn't sent a letter about the appointment I received a phone call 2 days prior".
      Mandation has to be done correctly in order to be enforceable/sanctionable. Anything that the provider wants to mandate has to be done in writing (a Mandatory Activity Notification). If they have not issued you with a MAN in relation to this course then you will have excellent grounds for appealing any sanction they may try to impose for non attendance.
      see chapter 3 of the provider guidance:
      Of course you shouldn't have given them your phone number and should have insisted on all contact being by mail. Too late now but others should take note.

    2. I thought this was the case, my advisor rang me and said she had forgotten to tell me, and I had to attend what she referred to as an information meeting, and this happened to everyone finishing with a4e.
      There was no mention of Elmfield or the 4 week course, we only discovered that when the Elmfield guy told us.
      We were stood around for nearly an hour waiting for the meeting to begin, a red faced guy finally turned up and informed us of what we had to do, including filling in an Elmfield form with name contact numbers, education etc etc.
      Something felt very suspicious from the outset, the 4 week course came totally out of the blue.

      Apparently the Elmfield guy is going to phone everyone on Tuesday with info about the course, strange, I haven't received any official letter.
      I'm due to attend 2 final waste of time jobsearch sessions in two weeks, I will attend those and not answer the phone in the meantime.

      Thanks for the info/ammo, you saved me having to ask , I just came back from a walk, it's been niggling me all day.
      All this last minute juggling could have something to do with the bank holiday weekend, but why they left all this to the last minute is beyond me.

  7. I obviously dissociate myself from your comments about Elmfield. Here's a link.

    1. Understood, all I read and watched were these and it was enough for me, once again we are in a "grey" area, with no solid answers.

    2. And more recently this report...

  8. it seems you are similar to Indus Delta no longer publishing what you consider "not right?" it is a less venue.

    1. "One less venue" for what? I won't publish anything with bad language, or with unverifiable allegations, or which adds nothing to the discussion.

    2. Anon (25 May 2013 19:31)

      I do have some sympathy with what you say, esp in relation to Indus Delta. Its forum is practically dead due to fear of debating the real issues. Not a good advert for the W2W sector it supposes to represent.

      However, one can go too far the other way. The Johnny Void site for example has some pretty good articles. Yet the forum is a complete mess. It is difficult to navigate and due to lack of any effective moderation is populated by a few fools looking to pick a fight with anyone who does not agree with them 100%! I got into a 'discussion' with one such person. It put me off the site pretty much for good ever since. So some moderation IS necessary.

      I think this site and a couple of others I could mention has probably got the balance right.

    3. I tend to agree!
      And I speak one who has been repeatedly banned by the irrelevent Indus Delta, banned by the UM site (strange that but I think the owner has a few loose screws) and even occasionally mildly chastised by Historian for minor excesses (ooooh Matron!).
      The balance here is about correct. The postings are relevant and most of the published comments are too.
      Keep up the good work Historian

    4. Thank you. Let me try to explain. A blogger has a choice. You can decide not to moderate comments, on the grounds of free speech or some such noble ideal. The trouble with that is that it soon degenerates into ill-tempered irrelevance as a few poseurs (often semi-literate and fond of obscenities) take it over for their own purposes. I wanted my blog to be respected; to be read by those who were interested in the subject and those seeking information (and I know it's read by journalists and a few MPs). I want discussion that is relevant to the topic. Of course, it veers off-topic from time to time, and that's often more interesting than my original post. But, as I've frequently said, I won't publish allegations about particular people, simply because I've no way of knowing whether they're true. I won't publish bad language because I hate it. And I require a reasonable standard of literacy, just so that we can all understand.
      There are people who don't like that because they see any blog as public property. It isn't. Anyone is free to start their own blog if they wish to.

    5. The Hygienic Dress Collective27 May 2013 at 07:56

      I have had posts unpublished here before which is irritating but I have to accept that not everything I think may be the best way of highlighting an issue.

      P.S. the Universal Job Match site Is about 50% self employed leaflet distribution In the Edinburgh area. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  9. A4E have been audited by DWP (PAT)
    Any one got details of results?

    1. There are always PAT audits taking place at A4e and other providers. The providers know they are coming and they know in advance which customer files are going to be examined. And I'd be very surprised if anyone would disclose the results (unless they were consistently good, of course, which they are not).

    2. These sorts of audits have always taken place, and the providers have always been notified of which files will be required. Unless things have changed a lot, they're about ensuring that the paperwork is up-to-date and accurate. The verdict is shared only with the provider.


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