Archive for the ‘a4e’ Category
Just when you thought they’d gone away…..
One of the companies at the heart of the government’s welfare-to-work programme is facing allegations that it introduced an “incredibly dangerous” cost-cutting move that could put the lives of many disabled benefit claimants at risk.
Earlier this year, A4E allegedly introduced a new policy that forced advisers with no specialist training or experience to start working with “vulnerable” claimants with mental health conditions, learning difficulties and drug and alcohol problems on the government’s Work Programme.
The company had previously only allowed advisers with “in-depth knowledge of the barriers faced by our hardest to help customers” and “experience of working with disadvantaged, disengaged and/or disaffected people” to work with this group, many of whom were claiming the out-of-work disability benefit, employment and support allowance (ESA).
The claims – which are strongly refuted by the company – raise new questions about the government’s much-criticised efforts to support disabled people into work, with new figures released this week showing that only 1.6 per cent of former incapacity benefit (IB) claimants who were now claiming ESA had secured at least three months’ work within their first year on the Work Programme.
The allegations emerged during a case for constructive dismissal taken by whistle-blower Chris Loder, a former A4E adviser, from Fleetwood in Lancashire.
The word “refuted” is incorrect.
Rebutted or denied are the correct words.
The article continues.
Loder was lauded as a “high performer” by his bosses, achieving nearly 200 per cent of his target for finding jobs for claimants, and was the top-performing sales adviser in the north-west and Cumbria region.
He worked for A4E for nearly 18 months, but was recruited to work only with those claimants of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) who were closest to the jobs market, finding job vacancies among local employers and securing job interviews for A4E customers.
But after A4E introduced its new policy, Loder was told that all advisers in his office would have to work both with clients in his group and with those who faced more complex barriers, including people with mental health conditions, learning difficulties, and other impairments.
The new policy had already been introduced in two other local offices, and was later rolled out across the company.
In a statement seen by Disability News Service (DNS), Loder says the measures were introduced by A4E in his office in February this year.
After they were introduced, about two-thirds of his new caseload of customers had complex barriers.
Loder, who came from a sales background and had no experience of working with disabled people, warned his manager in Blackpool repeatedly that the new policy was not safe and would put the health of vulnerable benefit claimants at risk.
He says he told his manager that he was worried about the effect his “demanding” way of working with clients would have on vulnerable customers, “in particular people with mental health conditions”, because he “wouldn’t be able to see the signs of the conditions deteriorating”.
He also said he was concerned that his actions “may wrongly result in their benefits being sanctioned”, which could also affect their health.
He was refused extra training that would give him the skills to work with these client groups, and eventually resigned on 20 March, claiming constructive dismissal.
He told DNS that the company’s new policy could lead to the deaths of vulnerable claimants.
So, no training, work for A4E and bingo!
You have super-powers!
We’ve had the DWP playing at psychology. They’ve dabbled in psychometric tests, Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and all the rest.
Now A4E have gone better: their employees are all full blown psychiatrists, social workers, and special needs teachers.
Here’s a timely reminder of what’s happening across the system:
Four former employees of scandal-hit welfare-to-work firm A4E admitted swindling taxpayers yesterday.
The guilty pleas follow a police investigation into the troubled company which is paid more than £200m by the Government each year.
Julie Grimes, 50, Aditi Singh, 30, Bindiya Dholiwar, 27, and Dean Lloyd, 36, admitted dozens of offences of fraud and forgery.
Watching A4E comments,
The Daily Mail reports that the first four ex-A4e staff in the long drawn out fraud case pleaded guilty at court in Reading yesterday. They admitted a total of 32 offences of fraud and forgery while working on a scheme called Inspire to Aspire, which ended in 2011. (There’s a fifth person who couldn’t get to the court and will plead guilty later.) The Mail claims credit for this case, but it was a whistle-blower who brought it all to light, and A4e has always claimed that it was their own audit processes which revealed the fraud, and they notified the police. However it was revealed, it is embarrassing, to say the least. Money was claimed for job outcomes which were fictitious. The fact that this first batch has pleaded guilty means we won’t get to hear the details, but it appears to have involved forging outcome forms or signatures.
Sentencing hasn’t happened yet. Eight more people are due for trial in October (!) so this drags on.
This is worth a chuckle,
A4e STATEMENT ON THAMES VALLEY POLICE INVESTIGATION – 3 FEBRUARY 2014
Four former A4e employees today (3 February 2014) admitted fraudulent activity at A4e while employed to deliver the European Social Fund (ESF) ‘Aspire to Inspire’ Lone Parent mentoring programme in the Thames Valley region.
Following the guilty pleas at Reading Crown Court today, A4e Chief Executive Andrew Dutton said:
“I am deeply disappointed that a small number of people who formerly worked for A4e on the ‘Aspire to Inspire’ contract in the Thames Valley up to 2011 clearly let down the people they were supposed to help, and in turn the taxpayer, DWP and A4e.
A4e co-operated fully with the police enquiry, after our own internal investigation first brought these incidents to light.
Since these events took place, we have augmented our controls and processes to seek to ensure that nothing like this could ever happen again. This includes implementing all of the recommendations for improvement made to us by White & Case LLP following their independent review of our core processes.
Furthermore, rigorous audits undertaken by the DWP and the Skills Funding Agency have concluded that there is no evidence of fraud on any of the contracts that we currently hold with them. A4e has, of course, committed to paying back in full the total value of unsubstantiated claims that were made to the Department for Work and Pensions as a result of the activities of these former employees.
I would also like to say thank you to our 3,000 loyal, hard-working and principled staff who each day deliver public services to the highest standards that help to improve the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable in our society. I am intensely proud of what they do and deeply sorry that the allegations have for so long cast a shadow over their good work.”
We expect there to be massive increase in fraud when this happens in April 2014.
Almost one million people will be forced to work unpaid for six months if a new government work scheme is extended across the country, a thinktank has said.
Under the Department for Work and Pensions community action programme (Cap), which has completed a pilot stage and whose rollout is expected to be announced this autumn, people on jobseeker’s allowance for longer than three years must work for six months unpaid or have their benefits stripped from them.
As indicated above, this is not “if” the scheme is introduced but when it is – in a couple of months!
Seetec (South East Essex TEchnology Centre) is a relatively local “training” organisation that has become a significant workfare player in recent years. Their wikipedia page states their success of seeking 4,417 benefit sanctions to “Work Programme conscripts” in just a single week. They use the Provider Direct sanction hotline more than any other provider. Read the rest of this entry »
Is a4e continuing to do well with Welfare to Work contracts or is their time up? Their latest published accounts (snippets and downloads included) seem to suggest they had a really bad time, further allegations of their credit rating being cut since then doesn’t paint a rosy picture for Emma Harrison and A4e.
The Crown Prosecution Service announces,
Sue Patten, Head of Fraud at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Following an investigation by the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit, the CPS has authorised charges against six women and three men in connection with alleged fraudulent activity at Action 4 Employment (A4E), a social purpose company contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to deliver the ‘Inspire to Aspire’ employment and training scheme.
“It is alleged that between February 2009 and February 2013 nine A4E employees including one contract manager, seven recruiters and an administrator, employed across three A4E offices in the South East of England, committed numerous offences of fraud. It is alleged that they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims to the DWP for reward payments which, under the terms of the contract, were paid out when the scheme successfully placed individuals in employment. It is alleged that many of the reward payments related either to people who never attended A4E or to clients whom A4E had not successfully placed in employment. The contract was to deliver motivation and training and to assist people to find employment.
“The nine individuals are charged with a total of 60 offences, including conspiracy to defraud, multiple counts of forgery, and making and possessing articles for use in fraud.
“This decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
“All individuals will appear before Slough Magistrates’ Court on 14 October 2013.
“All individuals are now the subject of criminal proceedings and have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
When will they get round to Emma? we ask.
Meanwhile the Work Programme is disarray.
The government has put a brave face on its failures by saying,
More than 168,000 jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work – normally at least 6 months – through the Work Programme, an increase of 37,000 in three months, new figures show.
Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: “Previous schemes didn’t provide the right support for the long-term unemployed and offered poor value for money for the taxpayer. We launched the Work Programme to tackle this so people got the help they needed to find a job and, crucially, given support to stay in work.”
Johnny Void says,
Statistics released by the DWP today show that the performance of the Work Programme – which was already achieving less than doing nothing at all – is steadily getting worse.
By June 2013 a lower percentage of people who had been on the scheme for one full year had found a job which lasted at least 6 months – known as a sustained job outcome – than in the previous two months. In April 2013 14% of claimants who had been on the scheme for one year had found sustained jobs, by June this had dropped to 13%.
Following intervention by the UK Statistics Agency, the latest Work Programme figures now focus on the numbers of people finding work after spending one year on the scheme. This change has been introduced to reflect that the longer someone has been on the two year Work Programme, the more likely they are to find a job. This means that the number of job outcome payments, paid to welfare-to-work companies when someone has been in work for six months (or 3 months for the ‘hardest to help’), will rise over time. This has nothing to do with the Work Programme becoming more successful – it simply means that as more people are referred onto the programme, and more people have been on the scheme longer, then there will be more job outcomes.
The Morning Star points out that this is no success,
Employment Minister Mark Hoban can manipulate his figures for as long as he wants to portray his Work Programme as a glowing success, but he’s wasting his and our time.
A programme that delivers a proper job to a measly 4 per cent of participants after a year on the scheme is a failure and does not merit ministerial praise as “significantly improving.”
The Work Programme has in year two of the scheme found sustained employment for just 17 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds even though the Department for Work and Pensions estimated that, left to their own devices, 30 per cent would be able to do so.
Similar negative results apply for workers aged 25 and over, those coming off employment support allowance and, worst of all, disabled workers.
The cruel, short-sighted policy of shutting down Remploy factories – imposed by both Con-Dem and new Labour governments – has prevented growing numbers of disabled people from earning their own living.
Further, the disproportionate effect of the bedroom tax on the disabled exposes the bogus claims made during last year’s successful Paralympic games in London.
By any standards, the government’s flagship employment policy is a failure in terms of finding people proper jobs.
In the meantime people coming off the Work Programme are beginning to be shunted onto yet more ‘schemes’ run by the usual ‘providers’.
A little birdie tells us that a “big shake up” in planned for us at the start of December.
This does not sound promising.
A4E, and SERCO are important players in the ‘welfare-to-work’ business.
A4E’s finger in the Work Programme and other pies is well-known.
SERCO runs the Work Programme in Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and The Marches; and South Yorkshire.
SERCO also runs a host of dodgy outfits, including the immigration detention centre at Yarl’s Wood.
Apparently they are up to get slice of the Probation Service as well.
First we have A4E (Guardian today),
The training company A4e has been found guilty of racial discrimination and been ordered to pay out £50,000 in compensation, the Guardian has learned. Employment tribunal judges found that the company, paid £345m by the Department for Work and Pensions for its back-to-work employment services since 2010, racially discriminated against Rohim Ullah when it unlawfully dismissed him from its Bradford office in 2011.
Two other white managers who were facing almost identical allegations of failing to follow proper procedures – one of whom was also accused of commenting that an Iraqi customer should “fuck off back to his own country” – were not subject to a similar standard of investigation, tribunal judges found.
Ullah, from Yorkshire, who was “very pleased” at winning the two-year battle, said he was picked on by the company because of the colour of his skin.”I believe the reason why they discriminated against me was they had to find a scapegoat [for failures in the office] … and they thought, we’ll get this black person here.”
In their judgment, the tribunal said it could not understand why A4e, which is appealing against the ruling, chose to proceed with allegations of serious misconduct against only Ullah and ignored the similar allegations made against two white members of staff which were “swept under the carpet or treated as minor misconduct [issues]”.
“The other managers were not even questioned regarding these allegations, but every comment that was made against me, they took it [their investigations] to the extreme limit,” Ullah said.
Giving their verdict, the judges said that 40-year-old Ullah was “the subject of unlawful detriment in facing disciplinary proceedings leading to his dismissal and that he was unlawfully dismissed as an act of race discrimination”.
In a statement, A4e said it was proud to have a diverse community of people within its organisation and that it had in place robust policies to protect their rights and to ensure that all staff were treated with dignity and respect.
Then we see this about one of SERCO’s lucrative wings (Observer yesterday),
Three more women have come forward to corroborate allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between inmates and staff at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, including claims that such behaviour is still going on.
Their accounts support allegations made by a former detainee in theObserver on Septhember 15 and challenge the assertion made by Serco, the private-sector company that runs Yarl’s Wood, that alleged sexual contact between women and staff is not widespread.
You wonder exactly how they treat their welfare clients as well.
Private Eye exposed connections between Working Links and the Labour Party some weeks ago.
Working LInks had their own ‘fringe’ meeting at the Labour Party Conference. here
But there was more, a lot more.
Shadow employment minister Stephen Timms spoke in front of a Working Links banner. Jim Knight, enviroment spokesman spoke at a Working Links funded event.
Lest we forget why this is of interest,
In his evidence to the (Public Accounts ) committee, Mr. Hutchinson, also referred to serious problems with another welfare-to-work provider known as ‘Working Links’ which runs three major contracts on the government’s £5bn ‘Work Programme’. As a former employee of Working Links, which is partly owned by the State, the private sector and a charity, he told MPs that the level of fraud at Working Links, had escalated to a “farcical situation” but at the time, he’d faced a ‘stonewall’ from management. In his evidence he says that in May 2008, he had compiled a list of 15 different frauds in excess of £250,000 relating to four different tax-payer funded programmes and had warned Working Links – here.
David Blunkett’s own links with A4E have regularly been exposed on Ipswich Unemployed Action.
“Adviser on business development to A4e Ltd; global public service reform. (£25,001–£30,000 per financial year) This involves some travel.
Today another blog cites the latest perks enjoyed by the little lad.
On top of his MP’s salary he is still getting £35,000 a year as an “adviser on business development” to A4e. He’s held that job since he ceased to be a minister. It’s purely coincidental, no doubt, that he was the Secretary of State who, in 2006, outsourced the whole organisation of New Deal and handed a huge chunk of contracts to A4e.
Will the Labour Party ever realise that contact with these companies is political poison?