Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

The Commmunity Action Programme – Slave Labour – Pinnacle People in Suffolk.

with 17 comments

Yesterday was Business Day.

David Cameron began by saying “attacks on business are motivated by “snobbery” and that enterprise is a force for “social progress”. He also “defended the government’s welfare-to-work schemes.” (here)

Radio 4 The World at One had Liberal Democrat supporter Will Hutton  and former Tory Minister Baron Michel Heseltine debate the virtues of business. Hutton said that “nobody” was against capitalism.

In the Evening Newsnight had four prominent business figures on to explain further the virtues of business.

Then there was a piece on the Emma Harrison and A4E.

In the afternoon Newsnight had phoned us.

They wanted somebody – in London – who’d been on the Work Programme to talk.

We discussed the various welfare-t0-work schemes.

On the programme we had a brief reference to how many of these were.

 The researcher said that the DWP had not replied to a request (4 hours before) to give them the numbers of people on Mandatory Work Activity.

That evening they announced that the DWP had still not replied.

Then it was back to A4E.

To cap it, Chris Grayling talked about how good the Work Experience was for people.

Switching over we noticed that Question Time took the topic up.

The articulate Christian journalist Christina Odene complained that debate on this had been sidetracked by an  ungrateful articulate woman who didn’t like working for nothing.

The issue of forced unpaid labour was drowned in a sea of self-righteous claims that Work Experience was the only means to help young people avoid the fate of  Spanish youth, and no doubt a life of drugs, crime and cider drinking.

But what of this issue: Workfare?

Yesterday afternoon we were given a document by ‘X’.

This outline the Community Action Programme pilot in Suffolk – delivered by Pinnacle People.

Who are they?

We’re part of the Pinnacle Regeneration Group (PRG) which currently delivers public services to over 750,000 people each year. PRG is a privately owned holding company for a group of companies providing housing and urban regeneration services to local authorities and the wider public sector.

Pinnacle PSG, its subsidiary, has been providing housing and neighbourhood management services for local and housing authorities since 1995. Finally, Regenter is a joint venture with John Laing Plc investing in PFI (private finance initiatives) and PPP (public private partnerships) housing and community schemes. PRG’s property asset management division, PILA, invests in long term inner city regeneration projects.

The document begins,

  • The programme lasts for 6 months and is a  combination of a work placement and a job search support.
  • Work placements last up to 30 hours per week and up to 10 hours of job search support per week.
  • Work placements are of benefit to the community.
  • Mandatory participation for people selected to take part in the programme – DMA Action may be taken is a customer fails to start or participate in the programme
  • Customers continues to sign fortnightly for benefit.

Stories of abuses  on the Community Action programme are already rolling in from elsewhere in the country, as Boycott Workfare reports.

Chaos is the rule,

We were actually told that in our Area the person whose job it is to secure placements is struggling, that the opportunities have dried up, that… “IF WE COULD HELP THEM BY LETTING THEM KNOW OF ANY COMPANY THAT COULD TAKE US ON, THEY WOULD BE MOST APPRECIATIVE” ARE YOU BL**DY KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!

What of the rest?

We already know that “community benefit” includes benefit to business.

So Cameron is right: capitalism is a great source of wealth.

Particularly if you have people forced to work for free to help Pinnacle People make a profit.


Written by Andrew Coates

February 24, 2012 at 10:09 am

17 Responses

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  1. Odona is an odious idiot. She’s another religious fanatic, quite happy to resort to lies and cheap shots to make her points. Unfortunately no one corrected her spurious claims regarding the success of workfare in the US.


    February 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

  2. the thing that does me about this workfare, if you have been in work for years like many have, they are giving you your own money back through the taxes you paid while working, and then making you work for it again it aint there money, its the persons that paid into the system. So why should you work for your own money all over again by doing unpaid work programme placements to help the goverment and tesco profits bigger

    Wayne green

    February 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm

  3. Called A4E
    Emma Harrison Who? Was the response, We have no employee of that name 🙂


    February 24, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  4. Re: MWA numbers, I was disappointed that Newsnight seem to have missed the DWP release, earlier this week, of the numbers on various programmes last year June-November.


    May-November 2011 MWA referrals were 24,010 of which 14,050 were over 25. Work Experience referrals were 34,200 with 2,610 over 25.

    The statistics clearly show that a significant number of over 25s are being placed on all the schemes which makes a mockery of the official line that schemes that Grayling and others have been reiterating that work experience was for under 25s only. Not that it’d be okay if it was but the under 25 claim especially seems to have been consistently used to derail debates on workfare away from the coercion/forced labour discussion.


    February 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  5. I’m on the CAP in Norwich, which is also run by Pinnacle People; or Pinnacle Person as it has been so far.

    As far as I’ve been able to say, the only placements that have been made are at a Relate shop, and the feller yesterday said something along the lines of it’s next to impossible to find anything in Norwich.

    We’ve also had the line, at the initial meeting, of finding placements for ourselves. And if they can ‘spin’ it to be helping the community it can be anywhere.

    As to the ‘job search support’… well, I have a different definition of support to them, ‘cos mine would include some support.

    Although, in fairness to them at the first job search session, the chap did send about 10 or so people out to ask nearby companies if they had any vacancies…

    Herbert Skardon

    February 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    • Thanks for that Herb.

      An utter joke it how I’d describe this, and wholly believable.

      I suspect that they’d get paid for your placements, so if you found one ask for a cut.

      The Guardian repeats today what we said yesterday (a common event in the last week..), that ‘community benefit’ can be the money companies earn from your free labour.

      They do however reveal some hair-raising abuses (real investigative journalism) on the existing Work Programme,

      “Unpaid jobseekers have been forced to clean private homes and offices for more than a month at a time under government employment schemes, despite mounting evidence that the controversial policy is reducing the overall availability of paid work by replacing temporary jobs and overtime for other staff.”

      Back to Norwich: if they paid I bet there’s plenty of useful things to do in Norwich, a fine city (I know it’s heresy to say this in some Ipswich quarters).

      Andrew Coates

      February 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      • We exposed the cleaner jobs in early Feb… took them 3 weeks to pick it up.

        Work Programme

        February 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm

  6. […] Mandatory Work Activity and Close Down the Community Action Programme! (more here). Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailMoreStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  7. I will welcome any comments or valid criticism of my advice on what to do if you are coerced onto any workfare scheme.

    If being sent to any workfare scheme, ask the person mandating you – whether that person is a Jobcentre official, a Work Programme official or an employer in a workplace – the following key question:


    Do not take no for an answer – if you are being mandated onto any workfare scheme, you are being required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

    Forced or compulsory Labour is now a specific CRIMINAL offence, as you will see when you refer to Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, and the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

    It is the person who requires “another person” to perform forced or compulsory labour who commits the criminal offence within the framework of the said legislation.

    Report the matter to the police – remember, it is a criminal offence, so that is a police matter.

    Pursue the police for dereliction of duty if they neglect to investigate your complaint.

    Contact your MP and the media about this matter.


    February 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

  8. May be of use to you people: emmasblog@a4e.co.uk

    Willam smith

    February 25, 2012 at 9:27 pm

  9. All them that are on ae4 should refuse to go to their course with them till they have been cleared ha ha ha and we know that aint going to happen after all if u was burgled you would not go out with the burglar till he went to court would you so why should you continue to go to ae4 I say stay away its your right wile they being investigated by police

    Wayne green

    February 26, 2012 at 11:35 am

  10. The company owned by David Cameron’s former ‘back-to-work’ tsar is at the centre of a new fraud probe.
    Detectives are investigating the alleged misuse of  thousands of pounds’ worth of Government vouchers meant to help the jobless back into work.
    Officers from Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit are examining claims that staff at employment firm A4e used the vouchers to boost their annual salaries instead of handing them to the unemployed clients they were  supposed to be helping.
    Staff at A4e – the firm built up by multi-millionaire Emma Harrison – are believed to have stolen the vouchers and exchanged them for goods in high street stores. The widening of the inquiry comes as a male A4e employee was interviewed under caution by Thames Valley detectives.
    The man, who attended a police station by appointment yesterday afternoon, is the second staff member to be interviewed since the fraud inquiry was revealed in last week’s Mail on Sunday. Four former employees arrested last month remain on bail until March.
    Mrs Harrison quit as chairman of A4e, which has received Government contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds, on Friday amid allegations taxpayers’ money was claimed for getting unemployed people into jobs that lasted as little as one day. She had earlier resigned from her Government role.

    The vouchers, available in £10, £20 and £50 denominations, are meant to enable jobseekers to buy smart clothes and stationery to make themselves presentable at job interviews.

    They are redeemable in stores and supermarkets, including Marks & Spencer, Primark, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

    The exact value of the alleged fraud is unknown, but sources indicate it is in the region of ‘tens of thousands of pounds’.

    A police source said: ‘Detectives are examining the  various ways in which these vouchers were used. There are suggestions that some were given out as bonuses for getting unemployed clients into jobs and there are suspicions that some members of staff may have helped themselves to the vouchers without consent.

    ‘If this proves to be correct, there could be more arrests and further charges.’

    Emma Harrison, pictured with her husband Jim. Detectives are investigating a the alleged misuse of funds

    Until now, it was believed the inquiry related solely to A4e’s Slough headquarters after officers met managers for four hours on Friday, February 17, demanding that staff hand over documents and computer files dating back two years.

    But a source has confirmed that the four staff members arrested last month worked in the Thames Valley region. This means that they may have worked at A4e branches in  Banbury, Bracknell, Oxford, Reading or Staines.

    One of those arrested was Julie Grimes, 49. Ms Grimes left her junior role as a ‘client adviser’ at the firm’s Slough branch in November 2010  after an internal investigation revealed she was suspected of falsifying company documents, which were supposed to provide a record of clients who had been placed in full-time work.

    It is alleged that she claimed clients had found full-time work when in reality some of the positions lasted only a day. This would have allowed A4e to claim a bonus of up to £2,000 for each ‘successful’ placement, with Ms Grimes receiving £50.

    Ms Grimes was arrested on January 18 on suspicion of fraud. Two men, aged 41 and 35, and a 28-year-old woman were also arrested.

    A whistleblower who contacted The Mail on Sunday claimed senior management  ordered staff to chase targets ‘by any means possible’.

    Wayne green

    February 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm

  11. And excuse me you make a false claim they take you to court and hang draw a quatter you its a law for them robbing mp’s and ae4 and one for rest of us

    Wayne green

    February 26, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  12. A4e – Professionals or Unfit for purpose?

    Fit for purpose?

    ‘My view is that this company has demonstrated that it is unfit to hold this kind of contract’.
    MP Fiona Mactaggart who sits on the Public Accounts committee 2012

    “I have had so many serious concerns and allegations raised with me about what now appears to systemic poor practice and fraud at A4e that I shall be calling on the minister on Monday to undertake a transparent, thorough and urgent investigation,”
    MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee 2012

    A “Social Purpose Company”?

    A4e is notorious for its now threadbare pretentions to being a “social purpose” company.


    One whistleblower … said: “I have witnessed colleagues who were bullied by management so badly that it caused stress and depression leading to them resigning.”

    Paying Contractors?

    And The People’s Supermarket, which worked with A4e, said it had not received £15,000 for helping 17 people into work.
    Boss Kate Bull said: “We feel we have been totally used.”

    Touting for Business?

    Supermarket group Sainsbury’s claimed that A4e had “persistently approached” its stores asking it to take on job seekers on unpaid work experience, “against our wishes”.


    “A4e, a training company which is at the centre of an investigation into allegations of fraud, made jobseekers take up the unpaid four-week placements in at least two of its London offices.”

    Several whistleblowers from around the country had already told the Mail about dubious practices at A4e while asking to retain their anonymity.

    You decide.

    Green Garland

    February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm

  13. I did the MWA, was a joke Basically spent 4 weeks sat in the sun chainsmoking, no-one takes this shiz seriously.


    July 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

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