Tag Archives: fraud

Farewell Emma, Farewell A4e – Come to the Goodbye Party!

12pm Thursday, May 17, 2012
Brixton A4e, Brixton High Road (by the Railway Bridge)

Boycott Workfare have called a farewell party for Emma Harrison who recently scarpered from her fraud ridden training company A4e.  After pocketing a dividend worth almost £10 million, Emma left the company after stories emerged of police investigations surrounding the firm.  Emma hasn’t been seen since and is believed to be mansion hunting in any country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the UK.

A4e are one of the UK’s biggest workfare companies, paid billions of pounds to bully people into unpaid labour for supermarkets, charities and high street shops.  Due to recent protests aimed at workfare the Government has temporarily removed sanctions from most of the workfare schemes.    Compulsory workfare was at the heart of the Government’s £5 billion Work Programme.  So far the Government are refusing to provide figures detailing whether anyone has actually got a job on the Work Programme.

It is known if people who refuse to go on workfare are now being forced to go on one of the few remaining forced labour schemes instead.  It is also not known if, or when, workfare – a key part of the Government’s flawed strategy to reduce unemployment by creating an army of free labour – will be back.  Voluntary workfare still exists and remains a tool for millionaire bosses to undermine everybody’s pay and working conditions.  The fight against workfare continues.

Join Boycott Workfare from noon this Thursday May 17th, outside Brixton A4e, to say goodbye, or good riddance, to Emma Harrison.

Boycott Workfare will be holding a farewell party outside Brixton A4e with balloons, music, cake, fizzy pop, and party hats. The party will allow us to raise awareness about the fraudulent practices and bullying that these ‘welfare to work’ providers engage in and to discuss with claimants their rights. This latter act is particularly important and effective. Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty recently won a victory over A4e after claimants spoke out and organised against A4e. They are now allowed to be accompanied into A4e with their own representative.

“Join us outside Brixton A4e on Thursday 17th May at 12pm where we will party and leaflet for welfare rights. Brixton A4e is close to where the railway bridge crosses the high street.

“After the party we will take a stroll along the high street in an information gathering exercise to find out who is in and who is out of the workfare schemes. We suspect that there may be many high street stores taking workfare who have managed so far to keep it secret.”

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/events/303240683090900/


A4e Lie and Blame Bloggers to Cover Up Info Leak

After inadvertently publishing their own dismal performance figures against the wishes of the DWP recently, beleaguered poverty pimps A4e have resorted to lying about how bloggers came to access the material.

Never shy to threaten legal action themselves, A4e are quite happy to libel bloggers by accusing them of hacking their website when it actual fact the information was all there on google in plain sight.

Ipswich Unemployed Action were the first to spot the documents on mya4e.com which included early Work Programme performance tables.  The Government have so far refused to publish any details of how many people have actually found work through Work Programme, a workfare based scheme which could cost up to £5 billion pounds of tax payers cash.  From the documents released by bungling A4e it appears to be failing dismally, with fewer than 10% of people finding work through the programme – almost certainly less than the number who would have got a job anyway.

When the information appeared on A4e’s website scores of people downloaded the documents and are currently pouring through them looking for any further nuggets which may embarrass the company.  The shysters have been quick to try and lock down the information leak, mostly by lying through their teeth.

Within hours of the documents becoming available the entire a4e website was taken offline.  Then when the blog Left Foot Forward ran a story on the companies cock up, A4e issued legal threats claiming that they “won’t hesitate to take the strongest legal action should you publish this data or make any of the inferences set out.”

A4e went onto to say that the information was “was obtained from a password protected, secure site, in breach of confidentiality”.

This dirty little fib has been robustly denied by Ipsich Unemployed Action who say they came across the site via google and that no password was necessary to access it.  A4e can hardly claim that information is confidential when they published it themselves, on their own website.  The is far from the first time A4e have proved themselves incapable of handling confidential information.

A4e are trying to blame bloggers to cover up for their own inability to keep secrets, truly desperate stuff from a company who must surely be on their last legs.

The documents can be downloaded from: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B44Vecyf9ngyS0p5YVZBdi1UMDJTTUNoQ0JGaVlFdw/edit?pli=1

The ongoing A4e scandal couldn’t come at a worse time for Chris Grayling and the DWP.  The flagship Work Programme scheme has given organisations like A4e unprecedented control over claimant’s lives, with little or no scrutiny.  According to a recent Freedom of Information response, even the DWP don’t appear to have a clue what these organisations are doing for their money as Work Programme contractors.

An audit of all A4e’s Government contracts is now set to take place.  Meanwhile it’s business as usual for the company, whose Chief Executive and Cameron’s crony Emma Harison, just did a disappearing act with almost £9 million in hard cash.  Emma’s recently even deleted her twitter feed, which must have really hurt for someone whose huge ego is matched only be her bank balance.  It’s almost as if the  former Back to Work Tsar never existed, but she won’t be able to hide from fraud investigations into the company which has been rotten from the top down for a long time.  She needn’t worry about any future legal consequences though. After all, A4e say on their website that the company ‘works with over 1000 prisoners to plan for a positive future on release’.


Is A4e’s Workfare Scam Falling Apart?

No-one has made more money from workfare than A4e Chef Executive Emma Harrison, who recently paid herself almost £9 million of tax payer’s cash in a bumper dividend.  A4e derive all of their UK income from government contracts.  Many of these contracts, such as the Work Programme, involve forcing people to work, sometimes for up to six months, with no pay.

A4e boast on their website that they can offer private sector companies candidates for ‘Work trials and placements’.  This is the kind of corporate workfare that both Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling have dishonestly claimed doesn’t exist.

Four people have been arrested following fraud allegations at A4e’s Slough offices.  All are former employees and it is believed the allegations centre around Job Outcome payments being pocketed for jobs that lasted just one day.

A4e are attempting to abrogate responsibility and are blaming the help.  However since this isn’t the first time A4e staff have been caught cooking the books then it raises the question of why A4e employees feel the need to fraudulently claim job outcomes. No-one but Harrison is getting rich at A4e, she’s far too tight to allow it.  So with little financial gain why on earth would four people, from the same office, risk prosecution in this way?

The truth is the organisation is rotten from the top down.  Huge amounts of pressure is heaped on employees, and it’s not inconceivable that a blind eye has occasionally been turned.  The entire culture of the company is to deliver as little as possible at the highest possible cost to the tax payer.  Much of A4e’s current cash is made from simply sub-contracting out government schemes and picking up a fat fee in the process.  Much of the rest is made from forcing unemployed people onto shoddy workfare schemes.  They aren’t even very good at that.  For over ten years there have been reports of people forced to sit around in A4e’s offices, for 30 hours a week, sometimes for months, because A4e can’t find them anything to do.  Any training offered is scant and rarely leads to a qualification.  Job search facilities are massively under-resourced, with inmates complaining of lack of basic IT facilities and out of date newspapers.

A4e claim they don’t cherry pick claimants to pick up fat job outcome fees, but in fact their business model means it’s almost impossible for them not to.  If you are faced with a recently unemployed skilled worker, or a heroin dependent ex-offender, then in a target driven environment of course it’s good business to ensure the skilled worker finds employment.  With huge bonuses on offer available on the new Work Programme if  people who get jobs stay in them, then it’s just not profitable to devote too much time to the hardest to help.  The fact that the skilled worker would no doubt have got a job without A4e’s help does not matter.  They get paid anyway, possibly up to £13 grand now, for each long term job they claim to have secured.  Vulnerable claimants can be fobbed off on workfare or left to rot in A4e’s offices.  They still get paid for that as well after all, just not as much.

A4e came to prominence with Blair’s New Deal, the first large scale workfare programme which began in the late 90’s.  Unemployed worker’s centres and community organisations, who had previously carried out then largely voluntary back to work schemes, were muscled out of the way by the corporate weight of companies like REED and A4e.  The entire sector changed, as the demands of profit increasingly replaced the ethic of actually providing genuine help and support for people.  One former A4e worker has previously written on this blog about their experience at A4e at the turn of the century.  Back then Blair and his minions gushed about how the New Deal would contain individually tailored support, ensuring that all young people would reach their potential.  Not once A4e got their hands on it.  In the light of recent fraud allegations it’s worth repeating what was said:

Every client was supposed to have an ‘Individual Training Plan’ which was specifically tailored to their needs. I was therefore shocked when I was handed a photocopied hand written training plan and told to copy it out for every single client.

As far as I could tell, every A4E client in the country, thousands of them, had the exact same ‘Individual Training Plan’.

This paperwork probably still exists should some DWP sleuth want to have a look and find out.  Another account of A4e’s dreadful provision was provided by a former inmate:

“After discussing my circumstances yet again I was told that I should go into private rented accommodation so I could get a job now. They didn’t take into account that I had been advised by my key worker (at the hostel) that to move into private rented accommodation at this time would have been detrimental to my life and that I would have probably have ended up back in the hostel and that I needed a secure and safe environment because I was feeling very vulnerable at the time.

He also told me that he didn’t think university was a good idea for me as I obviously wasn’t stable (as I kept on getting upset because I was never listened to and was hating my experience at A4e) I was also told that I should really try to find work fast as if I had to come back to the 13 week course I wouldn’t handle it and he then went on to tell me of fully grown men that broke down because they could not handle that course (I really felt I was being bullied into accepting any job).

After he had asked me whether I felt I was vulnerable and I had replied yes, he continued to make jokes saying I could come and live with him and that he could be my sugar daddy and that he had a big house and plenty of room. I felt very vulnerable then, I had stayed late to have this chat and there was only a couple of people still in the building and none were we were sat in his tiny office which was literally a cupboard.”

A4e’s Emma Harrison has been well rewarded for fleecing the tax payer by both Labour and the Tories alike.  Of course as ever, the kick backs have gone both ways.  David Blunkett received a lucrative position as an advisor to A4e after leaving office.  Emma Harrison meanwhile has been given an CBE to go with her money and her Derbyshire mansion, and more recently was made David Cameron’s ‘Back to Work Tsar’.

With resistance to workfare spreading and increasing scrutiny of A4e, it’s possible the wheels may be coming off the gravy train.  Perhaps it would be cynical to suggest she knew the game was up and recently paid herself nearly £9 million to trouser as much money as possible before the whole shoddy racket falls apart.  The truth is she’s probably not that clever.

Anyway she can always fall back on her international contracts, such as A4e’s possibly illegal operations in Israel.  Having a former Home Secretary on the books has done wonders for A4e’s attempt to build a ‘global social movement’.

A4e like to style themselves as a charity, who’s primary aim is to help people.  In fact they are a ruthless corporate operation who’s primary aim is to line Emma Harrison’s pockets and massage her fragile ego.  It is time this criminal company was brought to account.  Don’t expect this government to do much about it though.  It’s down to us.  Protests have already taken place outside A4e’s offices across the UK and are not likely to stop.  Groups such as Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty have done some heroic work ensuring people victimised by A4e can have proper representation.  Bloggers such as watchinga4e have done more to scrutinise the activities of this company than two successive governments and the DWP (despite A4e’s repeated attempts to censor any criticism of them).  Pressure needs to be maintained and escalated against this company that have made millions from inflicting misery on the unemployed and vulnerable.

Other companies who have made huge sums from workfare contracts include Serco, REED, Ingeus Deloitte and BEST.  Prison company and former national joke (until it stopped being funny when they killed somebody) Group 4 Security, now G4S, have also got their snouts in the trough.  A4e aren’t the only ones getting rich from forced labour.  They are just probably the worst.

Emma’s on twitter, why not chat with her: @emmachat or you can visit A4e’s facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/A4eofficial

(the above pic, and lots more, can be found at: http://a4eprotest.blogspot.com/2011/02/a4e-work-programme-say-no-slavery.html)