Posts Tagged ‘Ipswich Unemployed Action’

Private Eye on A4E Claiming for People Who Already Had Jobs

February 16, 2015

I’ve posted up a number of pieces recently on fraud and the welfare to work industry. Johnny Void has also blogged extensively on this subject, providing very detailed accounts of the way the workfare companies have overcharged the government for their services. This includes claiming for unemployed people, who had already found work.

Private Eye has also covered this topic. I found this article on the way A4E were also guilty of such fraud in their issue for the 27th July – 9 August 2012.

Welfare-to-work contractor A4E has found a new way to make money from the government’s struggling Work Programme: claim bonuses for people who already have jobs.

The programme supposedly pays by results, giving cash to firms like A4E only when they get people off the dole. The government considers claimants “attached” to A4E and co for such purposes only once they have had an interview. But internal A4E memos obtained by claimants groups Ipswich Unemployed Action earlier this year included the instruction that as long as they grab claimants for an interview up to the day before starting a job, “you will be eligible for the attachment fee and any subsequent outcome/ sustainment payments”.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pays £400 for each “attachment” followed by bonuses running from £4,000 to £13,000 if the attached person says in work for two years.

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, was given evidence suggesting A4E had offered £50 vouchers to encourage unemployed people who had already found a job to sign up to A4E’s programme. The firm told the Eye: “A4e does not offer any form of voucher incentive for customers moving on to the Work Programme”. But it did say it could offer clients with existing job offers cash for workwear and travel to help them “sustain employment”.

The DWP seems happy with this state of affairs. In an instruction released in June, the DWP agreed that providers could attach claimants who already have a job offer as long as they have not actually started work. It hopes providers will offer claimants “any support they require to assist in them taking up the employment, for example, clothing, initial travel expenses etc”.

When Hodge confronted DWP permanent secretary Robert Devereaux about the money-for-attachment wheeze in a parliamentary hearing, he claimed to have “relatively tight rules about not putting people on the programme who already have a job”. However, Devereaux later appeared to justify the payments, saying that even where contractors do nothing to get a claimant into work, they might “assist him in staying in work over a long period, rather than coming back, at the taxpayer’s expense, on benefit”.

The DWP’s generosity may stem from a wider Work Programme crisis. Early results suggest the contractors are only finding work for 24 percent of referrals, and government calculations suggest that more than a quarter of these would have found jobs without help. Making these apparently un justified payments may be a way of bailing out a failing scheme.

It’s great that the Eye credits Ipswich Unemployed Action in this piece. Much of their material is extremely good, and linked to other groups supporting the disabled and unemployed up and down the country.

As for the payments being a way for the government to bail out a failing scheme, this seems to be exactly correct. I’ve published a later piece by the Eye, which argues that it is only through such fraud that the workfare firms can make a profit. And the good Mr Void in his posts has repeatedly made the point that you are far more likely to get a job on your own than on workfare, no matter what fantasies IDS may tell the public.

Workfare is exploitative, expensive and based on fraud and coercion. It should be axed. Now.