Thursday 13 June 2013

A4e and the government

The latest edition of Private Eye has shown once again the unhealthy relationship between A4e (and the other Work Programme primes) and the government.  They have documents released under FoI relating to a meeting which Chris grayling had last July with A4e directors.  At that point it was already clear, or should have been, that the WP was failing, and the publicity around A4e had been terrible.  But Grayling tells them, "In six months it will be all forgotten," and that he's grateful for what they're doing.  Grayling was replaced by Mark Hoban, who was similarly congratulatory at a meeting with Maximus in September.  The article continues: "The most revealing document, a 'short feedback' email, says Hoban wants Maximus' views on 'how we "sell" the Work Programme'."
Hoban has since made stern noises about tackling under-performance on the WP.  But, as the Eye points out, this is indicative of the fact that the government is more concerned with covering up the failures than securing value for money.
One important link with government for A4e was Jonty Olliff-Cooper, and he has gone.  The only publication to have picked up this fact is the Guardian, with a diary piece by Hugh Muir.  He points out that Cooper used to be "assistant to eccentric [Tory] strategy guru Steve Hilton".  Muir seems to be suggesting that Cooper has departed because the WP figures, due out shortly, are going to be terrible, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's clearing his path to a seat in parliament.  Nor would I be surprised if his position became untenable after his appallingly ill-judged tweets.  His going leaves one strong link between A4e and government, however.  After the meltdown last year and Emma Harrison's departure, the company hired the PR consultants Quiller, which includes George Bridges, "a pal of Chancellor George" as Muir puts it.  This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, and Jonty confirmed that in a tweet not long ago.  But Quiller is still there.
Outsourcing by government is not a straightforward business relationship.  There are mutual interests, which are not necessarily those of the people who ultimately pay the bills - us.


  1. What should be really shocking - the fact that there is an "unhealthy relationship" between the primes and the government somehow isn't shocking.
    So used have we become to seeing the mutual backscratching and pocket lining of our so-called betters that we are inured to it.
    I hope to be able to keep my anger and outrage at the despicable antics of these people alive and kicking.
    I urge others to do the same.

  2. This what will happen when the figures are released:

    Interviewer - 'Figures released today show the Work Programme has only found permanent work for about 1.5% of its clients. Does this not show that 1) the WP is failing and 2)the difficulties facing the long-term securing permanent work.'

    Nasty Hoban - 'I'm glad you asked me that. Actually these figures show that the fault lies not with the providers but with the clients themselves who, I have been told by an anonymous source, do not engage with the programme.'

    Interviewer - 'Do not engage with the programme?'

    Evil Hoban - 'Yes, I have been told by the same source, who definitely DOES exist, that the providers have loads of jobs but the lazy, work-shy unemployed dont want 'em'.'

    Interviewer - 'Crikey! So, it sounds like the WP providers are doing a great job and the problem actaully lies with the skiving, scrounging unemployed.'

    Nefarious Hoban - 'Yes.'

    Interviewer - 'Thanks for clearing that up. Carry on!'

  3. So basically a case of:

    A) The WP is an utter failure and unmitigated disaster

    B) We know this is the case

    C) An increasing number of the public and media know this too

    D) Let's shut up about it and it will all fade away

    On a more serious note, Hoban and Smith really need to be taken to task over their terrible performances. Of course, they will not be as they duck out of tough questioning, bully and bluster their opponents and avoid answering at all costs.

    The Private Eye article is as clear an indication as ever that the WP is not just unfit for purpose, but that this government damn well knows this too! Hence the "In six months it will be all forgotten," by the odious Greyling 'selling' of the scheme by the hapless Hoban.

    1. The WP is a failure,but what is astounding is Hoban's and the DWP statement that once you have been released from the WP,you will undergo intensive and personalised training.

      Have I missed the point of the original purpose of the WP? £30 million pounds to support and train,at a rough guess(778000 WP clients @ 90% +returning to JCP) Is this the "Plan?"

    2. OH It's far more than £30 million.
      From memory it was around £5 billion for 5 years. So around a £billion (that's one thousand million!) each year. We've now had 2 years so that'd be £2billion and counting.

    3. @Gissajob,Hobans latest "Hit Squad" plan only calls for £30 Million to retrain the Parolees from the WP. What does that add up to? about £20 per person.

    4. Oh - I see what you mean. Obviously there will be nothing for "training". The budget is presumably to cover the costs of the up to 5 extra hit squad staff. I guess they will be recruiting from the prison service.

  4. Checking A4E's Website/Twitter,seems the WP is no longer the main subject,it is mostly Probation?HMP the next Gold Rush.

  5. IF jonty does run as a MP, which I doubt I am sure some of the more aware will make his comments known to the general public, The fact he made them and thought it was ok shows the mindset.

    Its a revolving door system, I wonder who will get Jonty's position, I am afraid the HIT squad will do what it says on the tin, that they will bully and force people to sign off. ALL this work programme is a ideology It would only work IF there were plenty of jobs, but a we have seen there are less and less, Zero hour contracts, 2 people working 20 hours each rather than 1 at 40 (that isnt creating a job its doubling the work and no doubt they will work free overtime incase they lose that job). Even the DWP is advertising for workfare staff. There are no jobs out there or it is very hard to find any and you have to fight thousands of others just to get a chance

    1. The One True Elg13 June 2013 at 14:08

      That only matters if he's running in a marginal. All 3 main parties have whats called Safe Seats, where it's basically impossible for them to lose because the population in that area has always had a huge generational majority of people aligned with that ideology.

  6. I've been on the work programme for over a year. All that's happened is I've been made to turn up once a week for a two hour job club which consists of going through printouts of the universal jobmatch. Most of the jobs these printouts contain are part-time, minimum wage. I can't apply for a lot because when I go to the company website the job don't exit.

    I spent an hour this afternoon being talked down to by a lass who goes by the title Employment Adviser. This is the fourth one I've had this year. I was utterly demoralized by the experience and just spent rest of day lying in bed in utter despair.

    The tourist season is coming up in my area which means that there is often seasonal work going around. I'm thinking about signing off for two weeks to look for a job. You see, the DWP and the Work Programme have me jumping through so many hops to keep my jobseekers that I don't actually look for a job. I spend my days terrified that I'll end up on street.

    So the work programme is so effective that a man with over twenty year of work experience has to sign off to look for work because all these people are on his back, just waiting for him to make some little mistake so they can stop his money for months on end. Five BILLION pounds this has cost. Its a disgrace! All of them want locking up!

    1. Fight back. Use your time to look for that seasonal work, but don't sign off. If your "adviser" is not doing her job properly, then ask for another - you are allowed to do that. Lots of people who post here know just how you feel. If you are really suffering from depression, go to the doctor; there is medication which does help. I'm sorry if this sounds trite - I'm trying to be encouraging.

    2. I know the feeling of being demoralized by the WP providers. I am going to train to become a teacher soon and a person, not naming names here, for obvious reasons, at a particular WP organisation, practically told me to give up on my dream job because of ''lack of experience'' and concentrate on a cleaning or store job, which I have done for years in the past and want a change of direction. Well I was flabbergasted at their attitude and I actually left the place extremely upset and disheartened. Honestly, some of these people are utterly heartless!

    3. Sick of the Work Programme14 June 2013 at 02:43

      Anonymous (17:36)- although I agree that the 'adviser' had no business putting you off doing something you really want to do, he/she might have been doing that because he/she is aware that there are qualified teachers on the Work Programme. I myself am a qualified teacher who is on the Work Programme with A4e. However, do not be put off by this, as the chances of securing a teaching post are very much linked to factors such as the phase/subject you are training to teach, as well as the area of the country you are in.

      Also remember that, even if you don't have a teaching post lined up for when you finish your training, you would be eligible to do supply. I know supply teaching isn't ideal, but the Government extended the length of time you are allowed to do it to 5 years after training if you have not started your NQT year (whereas when I did supply, this time limit was only 16 months). If the adviser had any sense, he/she should also realise that doing a course (whether teacher training or something else) would provide you with a useful reference- as you will have been doing the course for a significant period of time, such a reference would be of much greater use in securing a job than doing one of the 4 week unpaid work placements which the WP providers seem so keen on mandating people to do (one of the main excuses being the opportunity to get a reference).

  7. Somewhat off topic but interesting as many now approaching the end of 2 fruitless years on the WP.
    The providers have to furnish the DWP with an Exit Report form (WPER 1). details, including a sample form can be found here:
    Amongst other things the providers are asked to recommend what you should be put through next.
    "Please tell us below as much as you can about your recommendations to Jobcentre Plus on the most appropriate next steps for the participant. This may include work experience, community work, further training, more job search activity or In work support."
    They are also asked for their opinion on our "Employability, Attitude and Compliance".
    Quite some end of term report!
    I object very strongly to a W2W salesperson being given this sort of influence. I have an uncomfortable feeling that this is going to be like descending from the cattle truck to be directed to either the left (huts are over there) or the right (This way to the "showers").
    Customers/Participants/Stock are entitled to a copy of the report (but seemingly cannot challenge anything in it). I will be making sure that I get a copy of mine.

    1. I agree, worrying. It gives far too much power to people who should not have that responsibility. What can we do about it? I suggest that everyone leaving the programme demands a copy of their "report", and if there's anything negative go to the CAB and ask how you can legally challenge it.

    2. Sick of the Work Programme14 June 2013 at 04:07

      It's also ironic that they are being asked to comment on participants' employability, attitude etc on the back of a 'training' programme which in most cases has largely consisted of supervised internet job searches. Such a programme does nothing to find out about individual strengths and what someone is actually capable of achieving, which really brings home that the only useful training course would be one where participants work towards achieving a skill or qualification. The advisers at A4e do not know me at all, and will still not have an accurate profile of me when I reach the end of the programme.

    3. "Please tell us below as much as you can about your recommendations to Jobcentre Plus on the most appropriate next steps for the participant. This may include work experience, community work, further training, more job search activity or In work support."
      They are also asked for their opinion on our "Employability, Attitude and Compliance"

      I wonder how on God's Earth WP advisers can reasonably ass what are the next best steps for their clients in many cases considering many clients have not been seen for weeks or even MONTHS at a time!

      Made even worse by participants having five, six, or more advisers during their time at the WP, each one having as little as 10-15 minutes assessing their client's needs.

  8. Employment Minister Mark Hoban on the benefits system.

    "How's it work? … don't ask me" says Hoban.

    He can't make head or tail of the benefits system.

  9. What about Data Protection. - aren't you able to record your disagreement and/or correct any inaccurracies?

  10. what they going to do with me then cos iv been parked from day 1 so i will be challenging my report as its fake made up 1 if they send it.

  11. Yes we'll all suffer the costs of his mistakes. Failing Grayling is currently selling off the Probation Service to G4S so imagine the chaos of them "creaming and parking" 250,000 offenders? Read more about that over at my Save Probation Blog.

    Very soon an individual will be able to be investigated by G4S police staff, prosecuted by a G4S prosecutor (without access to legal aid), in a G4S Court, then taken in a G4S security van to a G4S prison, to be locked in by G4S Prison Officers and rehabilitated on release by G4S Probation Officers. This is madness!!

    We need to stop this man before we have no Justice system left.

    1. Welcome to the brave new world of OCP!

  12. A4e is a waste of money and does nothing to help job seekers, all the people who work there talk behind their so called customers backs and threaten them with sanctions. I don't know why this pointless work programme has not been closed down yet.


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