Eco-Actif services went into receivership after banks refused to provide loans on the basis of the Work Programme contract as it was seen to be too high risk. According to The Guardian, their involvement with fraud ridden A4e was also “a matter of great concern to potential investors”.
Eco-Actif were a community interest company established to work with ex-offenders, single parents and those with drug or alcohol problems. In a major embarrassment for Employment Minister Chris Grayling they were based in Sutton, just next door from the Minister’s own constituency, leafy Epsom and Ewell.
The company had a contract with beleaguered Welfare to Work company A4e, with around 500 claimants attending as part of their Work Programme provision. Whilst the firm claim to have had good results getting people into work, under new rules companies don’t receive pay outs until 18 months after delivering the service.
Homelessness charity St Mungos recently left the Work Programme for the same reason, leaving a major gap in provision for homeless people on the flagship and flagging Government scheme. A spokesperson for 3SC who work in partnership with A4e claimed that alternative provision was being arranged for the 500 people who’ve received an unexpected temporary reprieve from the workfare and sanction ridden Work Programme.
It is unclear however where these people will end up. Representing as they do some of the hardest people to place into employment, they are of little interest to Welfare to Work giants like A4e. Ex-offenders, or people misusing substances, require staff trained in risk-assessments and other expensive stuff. A4e have no intention of paying for anything like that. If people, who let’s be frank may have a history of violence or chaotic substance misuse, are placed into mainstream provision without adequately trained staff then the next Work Programme farce to hit the headlines may be the most tragic yet.
We should be wary of cheering any job losses due to the Government’s bungling of Welfare to Work provision. But Eco Actif - like so many other charities who’ve happily inflicted sanctions and workfare on vulnerable people in the hope of wads of Government cash – only have themselves to blame.
Chief executive of the company, Amanda Palmer-Roye, had previously been a cheer leader of welfare reform. Quoted in The Guardian today it appears the scale have fallen from her eyes: “I believed it when Cameron said all that ‘the third sector should be the first sector’ stuff. I really did believe all that crap.”
It is to the ‘third sector’s’ shame that they have allowed themselves to become involved with a scheme which can see unemployed people sent on six months workfare or disabled people having benefits sanctioned for missing a meeting. They are now learning to their cost what most people know instinctively – you can’t trust a fucking Tory.