Friday, August 28, 2009

I watched the programme "Benefit Busters" last night, mainly for a little local colour as it was set in Hull, but also on the lookout for a dollop of middle class piss-taking. There was some of the former, but little if any of the latter. Still I always feel uncomfortable watching the poor being patronised and exploited for the entertainment of a voyeuristic section of the population.
This was a little better than the usual reality crap. Nobody cried for a start, though there was plenty of despair about. What we got was a useful insight into the racket that is "Back to Work", or whatever it's called. Clearly what we were shown was a means of syphoning off and pocketing large amounts of public money with little accountability on display.
The programme concentrated on three jobseekers. One had no intention of taking the agency jobs he was being offered because he'd been stung before. He preferred to stay on a guaranteed pittance, rather than accept a slightly larger here-today-gone-tomorrow pittance. By the end of the show he was seen to have the correct attitude necessary to survive the system. A second jobseeker, ex-army, took a job he thought was right and was dumped back out on the street a month later, and waited three weeks to have his benefits restored. The third, a young girl full of enthusiasm, willingness and optimism, obtained a job that lasted three weeks. For both of these last two the service provider, A4e would have received a big bonus, with a guarantee that they'd be back to go through the wringer in the near future.
The whole thing stank to high heaven.

Hull's Liberal Democrat council has recently withdrawn financial support from the local Citizen's Advice Bureau forcing it to cease operating. It is to be replaced by this same A4e, so expert at milking the system. This decision will have been justified, no doubt, by the need to cut costs. It will end up, as all these privatisation fiascos end up, by costing us at damned sight more.

'On the 28th June 2009, The Guardian disclosed information regarding to a fraud investigation into A4E which was instigated after the Department for Work & Pensions uncovered discrepencies in its "confirmation of employment" forms - discrepencies which centred upon the falsifaction of employer's signatures by a number of recruiters. Further to this, as the largest New Deal scheme provider, A4E has a turnover of over £145 million and yet has only helped 19,725 people back to work (a figure which is almost impossible to qualify as the success of the applicant in actually keeping the job is not disclosed). Alongside the widespread corruption which has recently been uncovered in various recruitment companies, these statistics have called into question the actual necessity of spending tax payer's money on these schemes as their vast and lucrative turnovers as private businesses are in direct opposition to their limited public service. Regardless of the evident fraud of A4E the DWP currently have no plans of stopping Flexible New Deal contracts being awarded to the company in 2009.'


historian said...

I agree with you, but you're a bit out of date with the A4e Community Legal Advice Centre. It's been running for 6 months now. The CAB was given government funding to keep going. The Leicester CLAC (the only other one where the contract went to A4e) has been running for over a year. After the Hull one the government decided it wasn't a good idea after all.
A4e has fingers in many pies - all of them milking public money to make a private fortune for the boss.

Jemmy Hope said...

Thanks for the correction and the additional information. Good to know A4e are not getting it all their own way.