Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Another A4e Statement

with 15 comments

Yes, A4e have released another statement – they are normally quiet so I guess its made under desperation to keep its reputation.

A4e is a leading public service provider, serving thousands of people across three continents – Europe, Australasia and Asia – for more than 20 years. We work in partnership with governments, public sector organisations, private sector companies and voluntary and community groups to deliver a range of vital, front line public services, including employment and welfare, training and education, and money and legal advice.

Performance

A4e’s core business is helping people find work. A4e won its first national contracts when New Deal was created in 1997, and we have been a leading provider of employment support services to DWP and JCP ever since.

A4e has helped tens of thousands of people into long-term work and outperformed the market average in meeting performance targets on: New Deal for Disabled People; Pathways to Work; and Flexible New Deal in each of the geographical regions in which we operated with the exception of London.

We are currently supporting one person into work every seven minutes. Figures for performance under the Work Programme, which replaced Labour’s welfare to work programmes, will be released later in 2012 by DWP. Currently, our figures show that the Work Programme is operating in line with our expectations, and is successfully supporting thousands of people into work across the UK and will continue to do so.

The Public Accounts Committee recently raised questions about A4e’s performance under the old Pathways to Work scheme operated by the Labour government. They also cited incorrect figures, which related to another provider. The facts are:
• A4e secured jobs for 24.2% of those it supported on Pathways to Work, exceeding the industry average of 23%, and our performance rose to 28% in the last two years of the contract
• No provider met the bid targets

Providing value for money

The Work Programme instituted under the Coalition government is materially different from previous programmes under Labour, in that it operates as a Payment by Results contract – simply put, as a provider, we don’t get paid if we don’t succeed. This provides better value for money for the taxpayer.

For every £1 spent by the Government on our Work Programme services, we deliver back £1.95 in revenue to the taxpayer.

Setting A4e in context

A4e has more than 3,500 staff and operates out of 200 offices in the UK. Since December 2005, A4e has operated more than 500 contracts for over 80 funding or awarding bodies. Each of these individual contracts is governed by different processes and procedures, including funding allocations, training qualifications, ways for engaging with customers and performance measures. It is also the case that during the life of any given contract, those processes and procedures may change.

Current Allegations

Welfare to work programmes are part of an intensely regulated and audited industry. A4e is committed to honesty and transparency, so we have an internal audit team which regularly monitors our work and that of our subcontractors. On top of that, we are subject to rigorous external audits.

From December 2005 to date, nine cases relating to A4e have been referred to DWP to review claims submissions. Of these nine referrals, one, dating back to May 2008, resulted in the prosecution of an individual member of A4e staff, which was widely reported at the time. Another is the case now being handled by Thames Valley Police. In each of the remaining, closed cases, the DWP’s view was that these were not incidences of malpractice.

The total number of claims rejected by DWP in relation to these nine cases equate to less than 0.1% of all the claims A4e has made to DWP.

Between 2006 and 2009, there were 14 prosecutions for fraud among all welfare to work providers working with DWP. Out of these 14 cases, only the one mentioned above, in May 2008, concerned A4e.

Of course, any single incident of wrongdoing is one too many. It is important to bear in mind, however, that both the May 2008 incident and the more recent isolated incident in Slough, which was informally reported by A4e to DWP in November 2010, relate to historical, paper-based contracts. The current Work Programme eliminates any opportunity for similar issues to arise because it is computer-based and payment is on results.

During evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, A4e specifically urged DWP to be open in publishing the results of such incidents and was a strong advocate of addressing the weaknesses of a paper based system.

In a memorandum submitted by the DWP to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into the management and administration of contracted employment programmes in 2009, the DWP stated:
“In none of the cases investigated did the department conclude that a provider was engaged in a systematic, organised policy of seeking to obtain invalid payments through fraud.” (1).

As a responsible business, A4e takes any allegation of malpractice and maladministration very seriously. We have a robust and widely publicised customer complaints process, and we encourage customer feedback of any kind to input into how we approach service design and delivery.

Review of Controls and Procedures

As a responsible business we take any allegation of malpractice and maladministration very seriously.

• A4e has appointed international law firm, White & Case LLP, to lead an independent and thorough audit of A4e’s controls and procedures. This review has been welcomed by the DWP and individual MPs, including Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP.

In addition to this, there are three other reviews taking place:

• DWP’s Risk Assurance Division are conducting a formal investigation of an allegation of attempted fraud in relation to a Mandatory Work Activity contract with A4e
• DWP are launching an independent audit of all their commercial relationships with A4e
• SFA auditors will join A4e’s team to help conduct our file compliance check

A4e welcomes and will cooperate fully with the DWP’s planned investigations, and provided the following statement on 9 March:

“The Board has made consistently clear in all previous statements that we take any allegations of fraudulent or otherwise illegal activity extremely seriously. There is absolutely no place for this type of misconduct at A4e. We obviously acknowledge the concerns raised by DWP, and we welcome and will cooperate fully with their planned investigations.

“A4e has more than 3,500 staff and operates out of 200 offices in the UK. From December 2005 to date, nine cases relating to A4e have been referred to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to review claims submissions. Of these nine referrals, one, dating back to May 2008, resulted in the prosecution of an individual member of A4e staff, which was widely reported at the time. Another is the case now being handled by Thames Valley Police. In each of the remaining, closed cases, the DWP’s view was that these were not incidences of malpractice.

The Board has asked White & Case LLP to lead an independent and thorough review of A4e’s controls and procedures. That process will be carried out concurrently, and all findings will be provided to DWP.”
A4e also welcomes and will cooperate fully with Skills Funding Agency auditors who will join our own team as we conduct our file compliance check, to help complete this exercise and provide additional assurance to the Agency that contracts are being delivered in accordance with their requirements.

A4e successfully delivers a range of skills, education and training contracts, which are regularly audited both internally and by the SFA.

Governance

As already announced on 24 February, Emma Harrison has resigned as a Director and Chairman of A4e. As a result, she no longer participates in Board meetings. The newly constituted Board, under the new non-executive Chairman, Sir Robin Young, will take all appropriate decisions, including decisions relating to future dividend policy.

Sir Robin Young was appointed non-executive Chairman of A4e Limited on 9 March, 2012. Sir Robin has been a non-executive member of A4e’s Board since 2007. From 1998 to 2001 he was Permanent Secretary at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport; and from 2001 until 2005 he was Permanent Secretary at the Department of Trade and Industry (now the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills).

Commenting on his appointment, Sir Robin said: “A4e’s role is to improve people’s lives. Our aim, achievements and commitment to help people have been overshadowed by recent allegations. The communities we serve, and the taxpayers who pay for so much of our services, need to be sure that we are competent, honest and are delivering value for money. The current investigations provide us with the opportunity to address the allegations we face head on. My task is to do whatever it takes to restore our reputation. Most importantly of all, A4e is about maintaining the very highest standards of service to our customers, and this is where must retain our focus. I believe that we have operated to the high standards expected of us, but if there is real evidence that we have fallen short, the Board and I will take all necessary action.”

Erroneous reports

Some media outlets wrongly alleged that there have been cases of fraud involving so-called ‘government vouchers’. The facts are:

• There are no such thing as ‘government vouchers’
• A4e, along with other welfare to work providers, chooses to use vouchers to support individuals with specific needs when they have secured a job.
• This is part of our flexible approach in ensuring those we work get the right support. We do so because it is the right thing to do, there is no obligation on us to do so. We do this to make sure those who need this help get it.
• A4e purchases these vouchers. They are purchased at our cost and in no way are they provided by the Government

Some media outlets have misunderstood the process by which a customer undertakes work experience and notifies the Job Centre Plus. The facts are:

• The Work Programme allows providers to give customers the chance to try a job before they commit to taking on the role – two of these opportunities are known as Work Trials and Work Placements.
• During this time, the customer does not sign off from their benefits. There is no financial gain for the provider during this period.
• On Work Placements, neither the provider nor the customer needs to notify Job Centre Plus – it is set up directly with the employer. In other instances, only the provider will be required to notify the JCP.

Some media outlets have incorrectly reported on an instance of poor administration in relation to a programme A4e delivered on behalf of Redcar and Cleveland Council. The facts are:

• This incident dates back to 2010, when A4e was a subcontractor for Redcar and Cleveland Council, delivering a NEET reduction programme called ELITE which was awarded in 2008. It relates to one former member of staff.
• As part of the ELITE programme A4e had an issue with the work of one individual, on one contract, that was queried and investigated both internally at A4e and in partnership with Redcar Council.
• Furthermore, Redcar Council carried out its own audit of A4e’s work on this contract and was satisfied that this was a one off incident and not a systematic issue.
• There was no evidence of any criminal activity. This was a case of poor administration, nothing more.
• We did agree, at the time of the incident, that this compromised A4e’s ability to deliver the full contract and therefore A4e continued with part of the contract only.
• We take any evidence of maladministration extremely seriously. The individual involved admitted that she was the only person involved in this activity and had undertaken this activity of her own volition.
• A4e has been given an assurance that this will not exclude the company from future work in the partnership, and we continue to work with Redcar Council at this time.

Some media outlets have incorrectly stated that A4e has won two contracts to deliver offender education. The facts are that A4e has been named as a preferred bidder, and the Skills Funding Agency has outlined the following key points:

• The Skills Funding Agency (the Agency) has conducted an open and competitive procurement process in accordance with EU procurement regulations, in collaboration with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), an Agency of the Ministry of Justice, to re-procure Offender Learning and Skills Services from 1 August 2012.

• This is us informing preferred bidders of the next stage of the procurement process following the 10 day stand still period. This does not constitute a binding obligation on the part of the Chief Executive to enter into a formal agreement, and the Chief Executive will not be liable for any costs incurred by organisations in advance of a formal agreement being entered into.

• The Agency, as part of their standard processes, continue to receive assurances from all providers to ensure that public funding is being used and protected appropriately both for current contracting arrangements or any future contracts.

• The Agency expects to finalise contractual agreements by early summer, before delivery starts in August 2012. During the next stage we will work with preferred bidders to ensure that the information provided during the procurement process remains valid and that their organisations are able to meet all the requirements of the service, prior to concluding the procurement. We expect this stage to conclude by early summer, before delivery starts in August 2012. Once contracts are signed, the Agency will apply its robust contract management processes that are agreed including quarterly performance reviews, working with the NOMS and lead governors. This enables continued assurance that public funding is being used and protected appropriately.

• This was a robust procurement and local decision making process with the involvement of lead governors, the National Offender Management Service an Agency of the Ministry of Justice. It responds to the Governments review of prisons and their strategy on ‘Making Prisons Work’.

A4e might be upset that I copied it all… too bad. I had a seriously long laugh at this statement though. The 3,500 figure came out again… but after FND I have been seeing figures of 2,500 staff… what is it? Not to mentioning the 1 every 7 minutes statement.

Of course its rather clever… the media cannot be one-sided… and will quote this bullshit to equal out the report/article.

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Written by Universal Jobmatch

March 21, 2012 at 10:24 am

15 Responses

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  1. Deemed the “facts”…

    Article link here:

    http://www.mya4e.com/2012/03/20/a4e-the-facts-behind-the-coverage/

    Are they disputed? You bet they are!

    Work Programme

    March 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

  2. A4e is a leading public service provider, serving thousands of people across three continents – Europe, Australasia and Asia – for more than 20 years.

    With exception to Europe (I am sure they call the UK as Europe – despite not being “across” it)… can anyone provide dates to when they expanded in to these other continents?

    I know Australia and Israel (unlike I am mistaken) are quite recent.

    (A4e India website claims A4e were the first to export welfare-to-work outside the UK… in 2005… that is 6 years?)

    We are currently supporting one person into work every seven minutes. Figures for performance under the Work Programme, which replaced Labour’s welfare to work programmes, will be released later in 2012 by DWP. Currently, our figures show that the Work Programme is operating in line with our expectations, and is successfully supporting thousands of people into work across the UK and will continue to do so.

    1 in every 7 minutes? The A4e work programme performance data seems not to show that?

    We take past (under) performance also into consideration whilst realising its not just the work programme they refer to. Perhaps they are counting people into forced (unpaid) work placements?

    The Work Programme instituted under the Coalition government is materially different from previous programmes under Labour, in that it operates as a Payment by Results contract – simply put, as a provider, we don’t get paid if we don’t succeed. This provides better value for money for the taxpayer.

    LIE! LIE! LIE! FND was result based also (except heavy service fee paid upfront)… Work Programme pays the provider between £400 to £600 per person to start. A provider can make millions in revenue alone from this payment.

    More so, they actually get paid before they get a chance to “succeed”.

    Work Programme

    March 21, 2012 at 10:47 am

  3. For every £1 spent by the Government on our Work Programme services, we deliver back £1.95 in revenue to the taxpayer.

    A4e Emma Harrison CBE (and all others it relates to):-

    For every £1 dodged in tax from your dividends and tax avoidance schemes, is £1 lost revenue to the treasury.

    I don’t actually think its too much of a big deal for such to happen for a business person who earns their own money, but for one to have strong ties with the Government and get all their income from the taxpayer… yet still decides to dodge tax, takes the piss quite frankly!!

    A4e has more than 3,500 staff and operates out of 200 offices in the UK. Since December 2005, A4e has operated more than 500 contracts for over 80 funding or awarding bodies.

    As mentioned these appear to be old figures.

    The latter is a scary concept – did they defraud all 80 awarding bodies under 500 contracts?

    (I would prefer a proper number, like 501 contracts)

    Current Allegations

    Welfare to work programmes are part of an intensely regulated and audited industry. A4e is committed to honesty and transparency, so we have an internal audit team which regularly monitors our work and that of our subcontractors. On top of that, we are subject to rigorous external audits.

    It isn’t intensively regulated. They have accounts audit for their company, and also are audited for their contracts – seems fair when all their income (and therefore profits) come from such sources.

    You don’t expect someone to take their word for it? Multi-million pound contracts, you create a few figures out of thin air and shake the hand of your friend at the Government whilst posing for pictures while a few security vans transfer the cash back to Thornbridge Hall? FUCK OFF! There is corruption and there is stupidity – this is the latter… you cover your tracks not make it obvious.

    Work Programme

    March 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

    • When first you practice to decieve….practice obviously hasn’t made A4E perfect..

      Andrew Coates

      March 21, 2012 at 11:04 am

  4. I love the smell of desperation in the morning.

    Gissajob

    March 21, 2012 at 11:20 am

  5. Since job centre used to help as in money for suit or travel for interview then I cant see how A4e can hint these vouchers were from their generous good will. They obviously were part of the package offered to the gov when taking the contract as how they would help encourage and remove boundries such as well no decent clothes for interview etc…..

    Are they hinting if they did not offer these they were not available prior or not in future? Rubbish as already offered by job centre when dealt with by them.

    I see their report as desperate and a spin doctored speech to alter attitudes. They are not to be trusted, simple as in my opinion I would not trust them with my needs.

    tracey

    March 21, 2012 at 11:53 am

  6. They can print what they like,nobody is fooled by them now.This statement is just a pathetic act of desperation.

    ck

    March 21, 2012 at 7:05 pm

  7. Gosh! I just skimmed it to see what further bullshit they are spewing. I tell you what though, if you are finding it hard to sleep try reading through it a couple of times slowly and that Zzzzzzzz…

    Mr No

    March 21, 2012 at 11:09 pm

  8. BBC Newsnight report on A4e tonight (22 March):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17476415

    JBS

    March 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  9. Oh good stuff! More for the pot. I bet A4e are hating all this.

    They are nasty. They know perfectly well that they are running a scam, just like all the others do, only A4e are the worst offenders.

    Or the most arrogant? They may try to fool the authorities, but we all know how nasty they are. Even if they just get a wrist slap they are now tainted. Thousands more people now are aware of these people and their money grabbing exploitative ways. Good!

    Aside from any fraud that’s been going on, the bullying and intimidation that ‘customers’ receive is an issue that needs dealing with. That we’re constantly dealing with!
    This whole issue may have the effect of less bullying going on. Especially as they start to realise that the unemployed aren’t all as stupid as they thought.
    And that a large percentage of the public are not being fooled by the propaganda that the government spews.

    That goes for all the providers and the pathetic schemes the government perpetuate. Not just A4e. .

    Mr No

    March 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm

  10. “the bullying and intimidation that ‘customers’ receive is an issue that needs dealing with. That we’re constantly dealing with!
    This whole issue may have the effect of less bullying going on. Especially as they start to realise that the unemployed aren’t all as stupid as they thought.”

    its absolutely terrible this,their partners are equally at fault.turning point are actively bullying people with health/disability problems often aggressively in tone and atmosphere.

    despite questionable conduct under the equality act,they appear to attempt to steamroller people regardless placed into their trust,evidence of disability is treated as “contemptuously” as if it doesn’t exist and the person is “trying it on”,even demanding to know the name of the disability which could be made up of a number of health problems combined.the person not a practicing medical professional to comment on such.

    lucy was completely right,past quoting this is a cruel tactic to suggest there is nothing wrong to the person.

    ken

    March 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

  11. Not sure where they get the figure of 24.2% outcomes for Pathways from – if you look at the DWP’s final report on Pathways (found on Indus Delta – http://indusdelta.co.uk/sites/indusdelta.co.uk/files/pl_pathways1011.pdf )

    …it says 18,330 job entries for 95,690 starts – I make that 19.15%

    Next take the claim that “The total number of claims rejected by DWP in relation to these nine cases equate to less than 0.1% of all the claims A4e has made to DWP.” – while this may be true it does not tell you what proportion of claims get checked and then rejected, clearly A4E would like you to believe that this line means it is ‘less than 0.1%. I visited here this evening having read an article on the Guardian, which included the following information:

    “Auditors examined 224 outcomes, and reported that 4% of successful job outcomes demonstrated potential fraud or irregular activity while another 3% demonstrated a “reputational risk” to A4e if details were ever to emerge in public.

    In 14% of cases – or 32 successful job outcomes – auditors were unable to complete visits. In some cases the auditors were unable to locate either the company or the individual concerned. In 69% of claims, there were “no issues highlighted” by the audit.”

    4% is a lot more than 0.1% and what are we to make of the fact that DWP were unable to confirm another 14%?

    Brennan

    March 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm

  12. A4E’s ABC’s – ALWAYS BE CLOSING

    Dodgy boiler room financial services could learn a thing or two from our favourite poverty pimps

    funkfish

    March 22, 2012 at 11:24 pm

  13. […] A4e released some more propaganda full of false statements and lies. Share this:TwitterMoreFacebookEmailStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  14. they seem to want to counterclaim any argument.

    http://www.bridlingtonfreepress.co.uk/news/local/a4e-hits-back-at-fraud-allegations-1-4404589

    “I ended up doing work experience there for around 10 weeks, 9am until 3.30pm Monday to Friday, answering the phone and photocopying while I was receiving my Job Seekers Allowance.”

    However, an A4e spokesperson claimed that this was normal practice. They said: “Occasionally, customers were – and still are – offered work experience placements, including at A4e, to give them valuable experience of a working environment. A4e does not benefit from this financially.”

    this is not true,here they have now employed a receptionist locally .it has saved them money in doing this previously by using the unemployed.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/apr/03/a4e-major-government-contract?newsfeed=true

    “Ministers have made the firm – owned by David Cameron’s fallen “family champion” Emma Harrison – the preferred bidder to take over the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) helpline to advise people of their rights in discrimination cases.”

    I dont know about anyone else but my advice would be to go elsewhere,another conflict of interest appears to be in the offing.

    the government are well known to seek the scrapping of the human rights act in an attempt to bring about the “British bill of rights”.this is a further attempt to undermine the legal right for the conservative vision of their way.

    ken

    April 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm


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