A leaked internal A4e document has revealed evidence of “systemic fraud” at the company. The document, obtained by the BBC, shows A4e staff “claiming for putting people into jobs which did not exist, jobs which did not qualify for payment and fabricating paperwork”.
Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, said of the audit:
“This appears to be devastating evidence of systemic fraud within A4e. Either A4e failed to act or to inform DWP, or they did inform DWP and the department failed to investigate properly. Whichever, it is completely unacceptable. Once again, I am urging the department to suspend all its contracts with A4e immediately.”
The document was obtained by BBC Newsnight’s Paul Mason, who will report fully the latest developments on tonight’s programme; earlier this evening, he said:
“We’ve obtained a draft internal audit report which suggests widespread potential fraud and irregular activity, activity among, across numerous offices, and, crucially, the report warns of quotes “systematic failure to mitigate risk in relation to fraud and irregularity”. It further warns that management’s knowledge of whether its controls against fraud were working were quotes “minimal”…
“The report surveyed just the work of the top 20 recruiters so these are people highly successful in placing unemployed people in jobs and therefore earning money for A4e.
“Now, the report said eight per cent of the claims surveyed were either potentially fraudulent or irregular, a further nine per cent were risky, 14 were uncheckable, often because the employer could not be contacted or indeed found, and as a result, only 70 per cent of all the claims could be verified.”
Watch his interview on BBC News 24:
Regular readers will recall that, earlier this month, A4e tried to prevent Left Foot Forward from publishing an internal document (pdf) that appeared to indicate poor performance on behalf of the scandal-hit welfare-to work company.
We reported that the document (pdf) showed:
…the job entry rate, i.e. the proportion of individuals A4e is responsible for at some level, manages to find a job for, is 8.4 per cent overall and 9.7 per cent if ‘specialists’ – those partners dealing with difficult cases – are excluded.
Meanwhile, the percentage of those who secure a job managing to hold on to that job for 26 weeks, appears to be denoted by the Outcome/Potential Outcome collumn, which has a total of 1.9%, including and excluding difficult cases. If this is the right reading of the table, then it represents a dramatic undershooting of the Department for Work and Pensions’ own targets.
As can be seen from this National Audit Office report (pdf) published in January 2012, the DWP expects 36 per cent of those referred to companies such as A4e to be secured a job for at least 26 weeks (page 4), and 28 per cent of those not on the Work programme to reach this milestone on their own (page 22).
The latest revelations from the BBC show A4e not just failing, abjectly, to hit their targets, but fraud on a massive scale: fully 30 per cent of their claims are unverifiable.
• The document A4E doesn’t want you to see 5 Mar 2012
A4e may have threatened us that they “won’t hesitate to take the strongest legal action should you publish this data or make any of the inferences set out”, but something tells us they, in common with all bullies, didn’t quite have the cojones to take on someone bigger than them and menace the much mightier BBC…