Posts Tagged ‘Robert Devereaux’

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.

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From 2014: Private Eye on Fraud by Workfare Companies

January 28, 2015

WorkFare-not-working

A little while ago I posted a piece about how a group of employees at one of the workfare companies were caught fiddling the figures in order to get taxpayers’ money for people for whom they had not actually found work. According to this article in Private Eye last year for the 24th January – 6th February, they weren’t alone by a long way.

Fraud Popular

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been trying to bury bad news about allegations of fraud on its various welfare-to-work schemes even though some were so serious it referred them to the police for investigation.

According to the department’s
Report on Contracted Employment Provision, which was slipped out on the DWP website nearly a year late, and under cover of darkness, in 2012-13 the government received more allegations of fraud by workfare contractors than in previous years. Though the report named no names, it blamed the “substantial media and parliamentary scrutiny” of bad behaviour by firms like A4E and Working Links on the Work Programme and other job schemes.

The DWP believed there was a “case to answer” in five cases, three of which were referred to police. Prosecutions did not follow because “proceedings were considered by the police to be unlikely to result in a conviction or were not considered to be in the public interest”.

The alleged frauds followed the familiar pattern of false claims for fees and falsified documents about what service had (or had not) been provided; and the contractors were simply allowed to pay back the cash. The DWP said none of the dodgy cases related to the Work Programme, but did not say which employment scheme was involved.

According to the report, DWP inspectors also found scant concern among contractors for properly protecting public money from misuse. Of 49 contractors inspected, 29 had “weak” or “limited” assurance levels for handling government cash. Only 20 offered “reasonable” or “strong” protection.

Not surprisingly, the DWP seemed reluctant to trumpet these findings from the rooftop. Though permanent secretary Robert Devereux promised MPs he would produce the report in December 2012, it was actually slipped out on the DWP website with no press announcement last October.

The Eye submitted a freedom of information act request last July asking where it was. We finally received an answer this January – and an apology “for not responding earlier; no discourtesy was intended”. Of course if a benefits claimant took so long responding to the DWP, an apology might not suffice.

‘This Joke of a Man’: The Real, Metaphorical Identity of Ian Duncan Smith

November 10, 2013

Thinking over some of the low actions and policies for which Ian Duncan Smith has been responsible, it struck me which cult figure on television he most resembles. let’s go through some of these, and list his most outstanding qualities.

1. A fundamentally incompetent man, with delusions of promotion far above his proper place in society. Check.

2. A complete lack of any kind of magnificence or personal greatness. This is clearly shown in his attempting to overturn the court’s decision on Mrs Laurel Duut’s benefits and have her, an Englishwoman, deported to her husband’s homeland of the Netherlands. Check.

3. Colossal personal vanity, and delusions of military greatness despite its apparent complete absence. Well, he claims to have a degree from an Italian university, which issues no degrees. Vox Political calls him RTU – Returned To Unit, because of his questions over whether he actually completed officer training. I’m inclined to believe he has taken the exam, possibly as many as thirty times, and each time blacked out, covered his hand in ink, and put it down on the paper as his only answer.

4. Sneering and overbearing attitude to his subordinates. Definitely check. He tried to lean on the parliamentary committee for work and pensions and bully them into blaming his permanent secretary, Robert Devereaux, for his mistakes.

5. Claims to be a leader, despite having absolutely having no leadership ability whatsoever. He was after all ‘the quiet man’ leading the Tory Party, until they lost once again to Labour and he was replaced by Cameron. So much for his determination. Certainly check.

In short, he reminds me strongly of the description of this notorious personage, seen regularly on television, especially during the 1980’s and ’90s.

Yes, Ian Duncan Smith is indeed an Arnold Rimmer de nos jours! With the possible exception that Arnie was aware of his faults, and could at times aspire to be better than he was. In other respects, all IDS lacks is the ‘H’ for ‘Hologram’.

Ian Duncan Smith Rimmer pic.

Another difference between the two is that Arnold Rimmer had a far superior alter ego, Captain ‘Ace’ Rimmer, who roamed the dimensions fighting evil wherever he found it. Unfortunately, there’s no chance of that happening to IDS any time soon.

But just to take your mind off how awful IDS is, here’s the clip from Red Dwarf where the crew tour through the specially constructed ‘Arnold Rimmer Experience’ to remind them how great the great man was. Enjoy!