Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Comments on previous guardian article


EricGreenwood
7 November 2012 7:57PM
Response to AylesburyOx, 7 November 2012 7:48PM
RUBBISH. I have had 3 advisers, Has a4e offered to do my cv NO, I guess you work for a4e. If you had ever experienced life as a "client" you will see the truth. A4e Has failed 3 times, New deal failed, Flexible New Deal Failed. Work Programme with the figures shown by channel 4 Failed again. I have never see as many incompetent staff in a4e. I was once given someone elses letter in a4e as my name was like their name. I had all their private info. Having a discussion about personal details In an open spaced office where anyone can listen in. If a4e adviser doesnt choose How come i have had 3 advisers. No you are dumped into a4e, given an adviser who in essence Bullies you into getting any job. You are not an individual you are a tick box. If a4e advisers are being over loaded then hire more advisers.

I guess failure just means more money.

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Share ameliajaneagain
7 November 2012 7:53PM
When I give money to charities I look carefully at what their aims and achievements are and try to make sure that worthwhile causes are being enabled by my pounds. I would not give to A4E, ad would resent any of my taxes going to them, because I feel they are more interested in massaging the figures, forcing people into unsuitable or bogus 'training' or zero hours contracts, in short, helping themselves to a profit rather than helping the long term unemployed into dignified work with a living wage. That Cooper idiot deserves **** of the year for such bull. The long term unemployed represent a minority of the total. I think the best way to help them would be through changing employers' attitudes. M and S had a policy a few years back of taking on the long term jobless which I believe was a big success. Most employers avoid loosely defined job descriptions and job centre advertising to avoid getting literally thousands of applications from these desperate hordes. Once back in work the long term unemployed are so relieved to be back to dignified independence they become model, undemanding, willing serfs, which is one reason why the right have always been such enthusiastic turfers of the great unwashed onto the dole throughout the decades. This is a point which could be sold to employers. Volunteer sponsors are also a big help. There. Sorted. Can I have my 50 million now?

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Share AylesburyOx
7 November 2012 7:48PM
A4e are a good organisation doing a tough job in extremely difficult circumstances, many of which are not of their making. 
The DWP determines people who are 'work ready' and these people are then mandated onto the Work Programme. An A4e Advisor does not choose the person sat in front of them and will always do their upmost to support them into work or training; they have to, if they didn't they would very quickly be out of a job. If you think your work is tough then try meeting a target of getting 6 people a month into employment. And I remind you they do not choose who is in front of them. So it's realistic to assume an Advisor will have people on their caseload with 'family issues' or 'health problems' or maybe even 'substance miss use'. These people are all deemed 'work ready' by the government. 
If you think an Advisors time is short then that's because they also have to source opportunities, liaise with providers and most of all find vacancies for their caseload to be put forward for. They also have to update CVs, support with covering letters and of course produce all the lovely government ordered paperwork to show that what they are doing is above board. 
A4e only works if the client is prepared to work and work with the system in front of them; people who fight it get nowhere, people who moan about it being 'a waste of time' get nowhere. People who turn up and understand that this is what is expected of them (by the government not A4e) and work WITH their Advisor get jobs - it's that simple.

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Share ArbeitMachtFrei
7 November 2012 7:13PM
Response to HannahFearn, 7 November 2012 5:31PM
Well Hannah - I am who I say!
As for the handling of the complaint (one of a number I made). On balance I would say it was fairly handled. A4e were given an opportunity to respond. A number of other complaints I made were dealt with by A4e agreeing to withdraw the assertions on their website. These were related claims of placing a person in a job every 7 (or 5) minutres and to saving the taxpayer £1.95 for every £1 of taxpayers money recived. A4e were unable or unwilling to substantiate these claims and therefore avoided publicity by agreeing to withdraw them. 
As for the "social purpose company" complaint: You have to understand that the ASA process is a 2 stage one. First the paid staff investigate the complaint then make a recommendation to the members of the board who give a final ruling. In this case the recommendation was that A4e should be allowed to continue to use the description of a "social purpose company". Knowing this recommendation in advance of the ruling doubtless gave A4e confidence that my complaint would not be upheld and that they felt confident that they need not voluntarily withdraw the phrase from their website(s) and probably trumpet this as endorsement for their claim. Fortunately at least one member of the ruling body disagreed and carried the day - and my complaint was upheld. So instead of A4e's expected outcome - therir social purpose nonsense being vindicated - they received a rather humbling criticism. I wish I had been a fly on the wall at the ASA meeting.

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Share podilato
7 November 2012 7:08PM
As a current A4e staff member I can personally attest to the delusional nature of management in believing their own lies. How many times have I heard the one that says that for every £1 that is spent on A4e's contracts they save the taxpayer £2. The fact that this has been discredited as utter nonsense by a number of people in the field didn't stop Emma Harrison embarrassing herself when she recently repeated it on Channel 4. What about this guy's job title? He sounds like a character from 1984. I think that one of the problems with A4e is it doesn't know what it is. Is it a training company, is it a service provider or is it a counselling service? The Work Programme has turned A4e (and others) into recruiting agencies and it has never been set up to be one.

Everyone in the sector knew from the start that it was never going to work but publicly had to say how great it was as it is the only contract going to keep companies like A4e afloat. They are now trotting out the usual mouthpieces to beg for more money as they are struggling and are aware that when the figures are released in about 2 weeks showing how hopeless they are doing, they are not going to be in a position to say, "Yes, we have been handed at least £46 million and can't even meet the bare minimum targets which is actually worse than doing nothing, but could we have a whole lot more?"

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Share Coolhandluke77
7 November 2012 7:00PM
what do posters think about the blurring of the sectors point

Charities paid for by our taxes are not charities at all. They are quangos. It turns out that the "Big Society" is really the "Big State". .

"There are charities that have no voluntary donations at all

No, there aren't.

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Share ArecBalrin
7 November 2012 6:55PM

Reducing unemployment requires two things. The jobs have to be directly made, it's no good 'creating conditions favourable to hiring' if employers keep holding on to the fantastical views of the unemployed and disabled which they are currently known to have. One of these views is frequently given coverage in the media with no balance- that applicants are almost entirely unsuitable candidates barely able to read or write.

Job adverts carry demands that candidates have skills which are barely related to the actual job and are in fact multiple job roles squeeze into one payroll unit to save money and squeeze more surplus labour value. Who needs a very good engineer and a very good customer service assistant when you can get one person doing both jobs at the passable below average, an average which itself has been lowered by employers badly defining roles. It was fine when they just needed flat cost reductions, but when they get the 'more competitive' environment they lobbied the government and rest of society for, workers that are average but expected to do everything are not up to it. The problem is not the applicants, that needs to be shaken out of the heads of those who forgot the opportunities they were handed when they had no experience. Blaming those who have been mismanaged for the problems of mismanagement is a distraction.

But they won't listen though, they haven't listened. The only alternative is direct job creation of the kind which has just been rolled-back with the incompetent scrapping of Remploy.

Second, the knowledge base is fine, but it isn't utilised. Those who talk the most about our 'knowledge-based economy' don't strike me as being knowledgeable. Maybe that is deliberate on their part though- knowledge is even more valuable when it is rare, so there is a perverse incentive to not spread it until the most maximum return is extracted. Are bio-chemists valuable to the economy? Train more bio-chemists- suddenly the amount their work is valued drops, Such scenarios are dismissed as unrealistic because there is a limit on the number of people able to understand bio-chemistry. You'd think from this that anyone with a job must be good at it, but they're not. There are bad drivers and good ones, bad dentists who still manage to scrape above minimum statutory standards and good ones. But employers over-estimate their ability to judge how well someone is doing their job and an abundance of bad employees in job roles still drives down the estimated labour value of good ones.

People have to be matched better according to aptitude in both their work and training. The free-for-all of the jobs and training markets don't work. It's illegal to place false job advertisements, but as the market is unpoliced, a substantial number of advertised vacancies don't really exist. They are just fishing activities by recruitment agencies to farm CVs and personal details. Someone who is clever but exhausted by manual work will never escape it, they don't have the time, energy or money to make themselves a suitable(but experience-less) candidate for a rewarding career in something they are good at.

But that's the great thing about a free-for-all: no one is to blame except those that suffer because of it.

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Share congregational
7 November 2012 6:50PM
Response to KateEMcCann, 7 November 2012 4:24PM
I don't see how the programme is sustainable without a significant recovery in the economy. The government will have to increase attachment payment (the up front payments providers receive for a referral), otherwise providers will spend less and less time with the hard to help claimants and just cherry pick the easy cases. The potential for fraud will increase with providers claiming outcome payments despite people having found work on their own.

There is currently an anti-workfare campaign ongoing which encourages those referred to the WP to not sign the data protection waiver. If they don't sign this, providers cannot contact employers on their behalf, and will find it difficult to prove outcomes. Providers are obliged to work with those referred whether they sign the waiver or not.

Ultimately though, the programme will fail because it misdiagnoses the unemployment problem. It views unemployment as an individual problem, relying on the theory that if you prepare someone for work enough, they will find work. This can work on an individual level, but if you scale it up to the whole economy where there is a chronic shortage of jobs, it simply cannot be successful.

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Share antiloak
7 November 2012 6:49PM
'A4E has faced criticism over the profit it makes getting unemployed people back into work – as much as £13,000 per successful case '

What appalling inefficiency: you could offer an employer half that for every person they took on for a year, and get treble the result. I think what A4E means is that there isn't enough money for THEM.
By definition, there never could be.

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Share EricGreenwood
7 November 2012 6:49PM
Ok, I have had the misfortune to visit a4e THREE times, Three times they promised to find me a job, 3 times they FAILED. This time my hour long meeting, has been cut to 10 minutes. It takes me longer to get there on the bus than i spend there. I have effectively been called a liar, i have been bullied, insulted by a4e. They took no notice of my medical problem (not bad enough to go off sick).

I now have a meeting with them about once a month, thats it No training is ever offered, No placements or work experience, Nothing. Yet they get £400 per person on their scheme. In addition as part of the contract they have with the DWP they are exempt from monitoring. They use the black box apppoach which means they can do anything they wish.. But in reality they do Nothing.

Being with them for over a year i have had no calls from them except to "remind" me about the monthly meeting. The time before this current session, they promised they would help fund a PTTLS course, so they wanted me to teach other clients how to use a computer, which i did thinking it would help,, but at the end of the time they said sorry no money. Then the government changed and the FND was abolished and the government gave Millions to the work providers for cancelling the contract. Is a4e value for money Hell NO.. yet Jonty Wants MORE money thrown at a company/companies that not only failed once, but have failed repeatedly.

I am not surprised they want more money, because they know there are no jobs out there, yet they want as much money as they can get. I predicted within the first few months they would try to ask for more money. So not only are we having to spend on a4e and work programmes and their ilk but also spending on welfare. Yet the focus is all on welfare people not the waste of money the work programme gets. This money could have been spent in actually creating sustainable jobs. But the work programme is just a way for private companies to profit from the state.. and for the state to hand BILLIONS of the publics money into unregulated and incomptent companies.

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Share Naggedbycats
7 November 2012 6:22PM
"Unemployment is a problem millions of people across Europe face. If you can find a really good way of fixing that, then you deserve to become a millionaire because it's a really good thing to try and solve".

A4e's performance statistics, as declared by Channel 4 show that Jonty's business hasn't solved this. His he therefore suggesting Emma didn't deserve that £8.6 million quid?

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Share ToffsvPlebs
7 November 2012 6:16PM
Ah, the beneficiaries of millions of taxpayer's funds for doing bugger are now holding out the begging bowls for more handouts. Wondered how long it would take.

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Share Sheena Powell
7 November 2012 6:04PM
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn't abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

EmmaChisset
7 November 2012 5:56PM
Response to FoodbankBritain, 7 November 2012 5:29PM
The misnamed Work Providers in the Work Programme are nothing but poverty pimps and parasites on the bodies of the poor

'Dole Farmers' is another rather apt description.

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Share EmmaChisset
7 November 2012 5:52PM
Response to Nayim, 7 November 2012 4:09PM
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FoodbankBritain
7 November 2012 5:44PM
People need real in depth training in trades and technology, not cheap labour schemes, spending a year learning how to move shopping trollies around, stack shelves, and clean floors. The scheme as it stands now is simply to provide unpaid labour to business. They should pay people real wages when they're working. The supply of low paid jobs is made worse by the availability of free workers from the Government courtesy of the taxpayer. There were widespread reports at Christmas of Workfare placements being forced to do the unsocial hours over Christmas, thus saving the companies overtime.

The private sector's first priority is always their own profit, they will milk these schemes for massive profits for doing next to nothing except petitioning the DWP for sanctions against claimants.

They make me sick. If I had to do their job to earn a crust I would rather starve. Some people still have principles.

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Share yellowbird3
7 November 2012 5:44PM
charities have a lot of good will in the community due to the trust that has been built up over the years I have noticed that the more the charity pays the workers the more they attract the "career" type rather than 
committed workers and that has a knock on on what type of funding they chase all piggy backing on the trust and good will built up between the community and the charities .The Labour Government sought
to understand how this good will worked and also to bring charities under control with professionalism that was in vouge -and then use it for thier own purpose .
The last charity I worked for took all its funding and all direction and KPIs from the government Dept it was funded by --no speaking up for justice no client voice -unless it served a funding purpose .
Charities will lose their good will --and it will never return if they keep following the governments funding -the poor client has already lost out years ago .

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Share EmmaChisset
7 November 2012 5:42PM
A4E are a bunch on con merchants. How they got away with the fraud investigation is anybody's guess; maybe the investigators weren't looking very hard.

Their whole raison d'etre, their existence, is fraudulent.

Have they published figures for their success rates in the Work Programme yet?

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Share FoodbankBritain
7 November 2012 5:37PM
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KateEMcCann
7 November 2012 5:36PM

Response to FoodbankBritain, 7 November 2012 5:29PM
Thanks for your comment @FoodbankBritain, always good to receive hearty criticism!

Do you have any thoughts on alternative models which could help people find work, or would you say that there's no need for a national programme of this sort in the first place?

Thanks,

Kate

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Share KateEMcCann
7 November 2012 5:33PM

Interesting points @inebriatED and @Elephantmoth, appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts in the thread. At the end of the day we can all agree that the most important point in all this is that someone gets the service they need, no matter who provides it.

As you point out @Elephantmoth, the essential element here, and the thing that we should be putting all our effort into, is creating a system which performs well and doesn't fail the people within it. I'm not sure we could say that at the moment.

I wonder, does anyone have any fresh thinking on how to ensure this does happen?

Kate

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Share HannahFearn
7 November 2012 5:31PM

Response to ArbeitMachtFrei, 7 November 2012 4:49PM
Thanks for adding your views - assuming you are who you say, we'd be interested to hear more about the handling of your complaint on this issue and where the organisation is positioning itself now.

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Share FoodbankBritain
7 November 2012 5:29PM
I've never read such unadulterated garbage in all my life. The misnamed Work Providers in the Work Programme are nothing but poverty pimps and parasites on the bodies of the poor who make their money redirecting funds from to their own bank balance by telling people to look online for jobs, as they would have done at home anyway. Their services are a joke, not the 'tailored support' the Government claims. All along they've understood that the Government would increase their money at some point, as New Labour did, rewarding failure.

Channel 4 reported A4e found only 3,000 people jobs for the £45 million that was poured down their necks by this odious Government. A shameful waste of money when benefits are being withdrawn from the sick and disabled to pay for it.

And what of their claim to be 'working with' various disability charities and organisations in their bid, which has been roundly denied by said organisations. If the unemployed had misrepresented themselves so blatantly they would be being accused of fraud and prosecuted.

If Labour have an ounce of integrity left they will promise to end this gravy train of the poverty pimps.

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Share Elephantmoth
7 November 2012 5:04PM
Response to KateEMcCann, 7 November 2012 11:43AM
The energy and funds spent on arguing about whether public or private sector is better/worse has become disconnected from the actual issues. At this point many people would no longer care who provided a service if it was done well, for reasonable cost, and promoted a culture of respect for all.

Instead, we face ever-diminishing services, healthcare, and work opportunities; increasing costs, sickness, homelessless, and poverty. The replacements for these lost services are not in evidence, and the people who need them are too often treated disrespectfully by professionals and agencies that they depend on.

The networks of rules and regulations between sectors have become too complicated for most people to want to understand. Is it beyond the combined minds of theorists to come up with a fair system that can include various providers of services without them having to be at war with each other?

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Share InebriatEd
7 November 2012 4:55PM
Response to KateEMcCann, 7 November 2012 11:43AM
I think it is important to separate 'charity' and 'private'. Even if a charity is performing a 'public function' it is still using all the resources available to perform the function - there can be no 'skimming' to shareholders. I think (though I may be wrong) that charities have greater transparency requirements in terms of where the funds go. It is an important distinction.

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Share ArbeitMachtFrei
7 November 2012 4:49PM
Guardian
pick
OK I confess! I was the sole complainer to the ASA about A4e's boast to be a "social purpose company". So what did I find so obnoxious about this self-congratulatory phrase? I think it is deliberatly designed to be misleading in that it is designed to make the public believe that A4e (and Emma Harrison) are a bunch of well meaning, altruistic philanthropists. In reality they are a company (and an individual) who has spotted the main chance and expolited it to the full, without caring too much about the damage and poor service inflicted along the way. If the barriers between business and charities have become blurred then A4e and other Welfare to Workfare companies have done a lot of the blurring. It suits their purpose to be considered as the good guys whilst taking huge amounts of taxpayers' money, it makes it easier to cream off and carry away extra funding, it makes it easier to justify failure when you do so with a home made halo on your head.

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Share mkmky1
7 November 2012 4:41PM
As a participant of the WP is it value for money? No training,no support ,30 minutes a month checking what the JCP already checks out,total investment 6 Hours a year, payoff?....£13456.00 More than I will make working 40 hours a week at £6.19 per hour in a year..the sums make no sense!

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Share fucia
7 November 2012 4:27PM
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KateEMcCann
7 November 2012 4:24PM

Response to congregational, 7 November 2012 3:16PM
A really interesting point congregational, especially as it's emerging that the figures for referrals to the Work Programme are much lower than expected.

Do you see a way out of this situation for the government, providers and importantly the people who take part in the Work Programme itself?

Kate

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Share KateEMcCann
7 November 2012 4:23PM

Response to Nayim, 7 November 2012 4:09PM
Thanks for your comment Nayim.

We like to open up both sides of the debate on the network, and we've seen some really interesting points come out in the comment thread above as a result. I have found the discussion about the role of the public and private sectors particularly interesting.

Kate

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Share Nayim
7 November 2012 4:09PM
"Unemployment is a problem millions of people across Europe face. If you can find a really good way of fixing that, then you deserve to become a millionaire because it's a really good thing to try and solve," says Olliff-Cooper.

That's funny, Jonty - because A4e haven't found a good way of fixing that and yet you became millionaires anyway.

Guardian running puff pieces for A4e to demand more public money, departmental top-slicing, and further contracts. Do they pay you for this advertising space or do you just give it away for free?

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Share congregational
7 November 2012 3:16PM
Olliff-Cooper:

but being paid to be successful is a really good way of being successful

That's the theory, but unfortunately it's been thoroughly debunked by reality. What actually happens is that these firms put wildly optimistic figures in their tender documents and then when they inevitably fail to live up to them, they start lobbying for targets to be lowered and/or outcome payments to be increased. You end up paying to be unsuccessful.

The Work Programme is doomed to fail because there just aren't the jobs. No matter what the WP providers do, there will always to too many people chasing too few jobs. Rather than wasting billions on training the unemployed for non-existent work, what we actually need is some good old fashioned job creation by the Government.

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Share freebornjohn
7 November 2012 2:29PM
Response to KateEMcCann, 7 November 2012 11:43AM
Would you agree that 'public' and 'private' labels are inaccurate when charities also provide services under the same banner that A4e does?

The label charity, is, i believe, certainly inaccurate for any charity involved in workfare , and sanctioning people for three years. If a charity gets into bed with A4e and goes bust then too bad. Given what workfare is and does, i would argue that a lot of charities have lost there moral and ethical reason for being, so should now come under the same banner as A4e does- with everything negative that entails. Its little wonder people are now having to campaign against some charities.

Or is it vital that we try and keep for-profit and charities separate? Why?

I think it is vital that they keep themselves separate from for-profits. Instead a lot of them have stopped chasing funding, and are now chasing profits. By taking the states money and doing the states dirty work, i would argue that charities are not really independent or acting charitably. That said, it is increasingly clear a lot of charities only care about the bottom line, so themselves are moving ever more away from the reason they came into being.

More and more NGO's and charities are becoming corporate in style and money mad. For example in relation to the work programme how can a charity claim to be ethical when by its involvement in such workfare schemes it is arguably increasing poverty? Why should a charity have such power over a persons live? Why should a charity take jobs out of the public sector? Why should a charity be protected from the free market if it wants to become involved in such schemes?

As for the for-profit sector - if they operate like a business then they should be allowed to fail like a business, and should not be protected by the state or excluded from market forces.

I find it absolutely ludicrous, and a damning inditement of UK plc that the likes of A4E - a solely state funded for-profit - are allowed to operate in the business environment, yet without exposure to the free market.

Why are companies such as A4e with its welfare dependency, tax payer reliant culture allowed to take so much money from the state? Why are they being paid to fail?

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Share freebornjohn
7 November 2012 1:58PM
I find it hard to take anything serious this Jonty Olliff-Cooper comes out with. This is what this particular think tanker said about A4E staff on twitter:

It is a vital job, and one which does not get recognition of say, teacher or nurse. #frontlineheroes

So there you have it. A4e staffer comparing A4e staff who sanction people for up to three years , with nurses and teachers. Jonty works for works for the following organiztions:


Work at @officialA4e, associate at thinktank @Demos, adviser at @ippr & @weareBrightBlue

Says it all really.

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Share billkruse
7 November 2012 12:38PM
People who are seriously ill and/or disabled can't maintain - or in many cases even approach - the standards demanded by a commercial environment. They're never going to be employed. This is the harsh reality JontyOC seeks to push aside in what I'd describe as his efforts to see the taxpayer keeps paying his mortgage. A4E is a scam, all the welfare to work programmes are. Their real purpose is to raid the public purse and divvy up the money stolen later, witness the ongoing and nicely lucrative 'consultancy' with A4E of David Blunkett, the Labour minister of the day who first signed them. The welfare to work idea Is a nice little earner for crooked businessmen and corrupt politicians, and that's why it's so popular with the politicians of all major parties.

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Share NLGNLiamSS
7 November 2012 12:16PM

Response to KateEMcCann, 7 November 2012 11:43AM
I'd agree that public and private labels feel less important at a contractual level now but I think there's a misunderstanding of the terrain from a lot of private sector organisations. If private sector organisations contracting with the state want to keep playing in that space then they need to evolve, not the other way round.

We used to talk like it was a case of compromise between public and private to achieve the best outcome. Except, right now at least, it really isn't a compromise at all. Public sector organisations feel, in many cases, burnt by their experiences with the private sector and now don't necessarily see working with them as the only option available when you need transformation.

Some private sector organisations need to restate the case for their existence in this market, this is an opportunity for those guys to reinvent and redefine the rationale for public and private working together. The old dynamic was that you worked with the private sector for the expertise and access to scale. Many public sector organisations no longer believe this argument.

Whatever you think of the business, A4e attempted to bridge this divide by trying to craft a new rationale for private sector involvement, driven by social purpose. Clearly the advertising standards guys didnt think this should fly and shot it down. I dont have an opinion on whether that was right or wrong but I think learning the wrong lessons from the experience would be a disaster for the sector as a whole. What really matters is actions and proving your method/process/model works and works they way you said it would. Private Sector organisations and Charities alike are operating under the same imperative, 'prove to me you can do what you say.'

You can then have the wonderful problem of trying to brand success afterwards. As opposed to trying to re-brand the current model/system, which to be fair, is a mixed bag.

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Share mrkfm
7 November 2012 12:01PM
"he believes the lines drawn between the public, private and voluntary sectors are becoming meaningless. Charities now provide services and are paid by their results; councils commission the private sector on matters of social value."

I agree. And yet I see this as the major reason why privatisation has happened without more opposition.

For example - with the NHS - the lib dems and tories said they wanted to open up the NHS to the likes of charities. Public perception of what charities are is so positive that you just have to mention how charities will get involved and people then think it isn't a bad thing despite it being privatisation by the backdoor.

If you asked a different question however, you might understand how things have got so confused. If you asked whether public services shoudl be opened up to charities if this means in practise worse working conditions, wages, pensions etc and you might get a different answer as charities now do public sector work on the cheap which is wrong.

this is all about cutting back the state whilst in the process doing lots of dodgy deals for mates of poliiticians so that they can make a quick profit whilst providing poorer working conditions for employees and a poorer standard of service in many instances.

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Share KateEMcCann
7 November 2012 11:56AM

Response to mcquade, 7 November 2012 11:50AM
Thanks for your thoughts @mcquade.

More generally though, do you think localism and the like will see a greater blur across the sectors? I went to a conference yesterday during which one of the speakers said that councils should never be, or become, commissioners alone. He said their role is one of local democracy, allowing a voice for their communities and providing services because they benefit society, not just according to need. With budget cuts though this is becoming much harder, and there is a shift towards a model in which local authorities will commission services and not much else - especially when it comes to social care. (The Barnet Graph of Doom springs to mind!)

What do you think?

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Share mcquade
7 November 2012 11:50AM
No Kate, I don't agree the labels are inaccurate just because they might operate in the same fields. The for-profits line their pockets with my hard-earned taxes while the charities do not, despite similar performances.

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Share mkmky1
7 November 2012 11:43AM
Jonty ,called the system "SHITE" as A4E was paid £600K to advise the DWP on setting up the Work Programme,I take it that what he means is that A4E's advice is Shite and will be returning the FEE promptly!

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Share KateEMcCann
7 November 2012 11:43AM

Some interesting comments so far all - aside from the obvious criticisms of the Work Programme listed here, what do posters think about the blurring of the sectors point?

Would you agree that 'public' and 'private' labels are inaccurate when charities also provide services under the same banner that A4e does? Are these sectors changing and should we rethink their purposes? Or is it vital that we try and keep for-profit and charities separate? Why?

Interested to hear views on this.

Kate

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Share JoPopster
7 November 2012 11:34AM
My experience of A4E was having to spend £3 a week on bus fares to get to a draughty old school five miles from home and sit in a computer room with computers much older than the one I had at home to spend three hours applying for work (as if I couldn't do that at home) over a period of six weeks.

They made it extremely difficult to claim travel back (couldn't do it on the day, so had to make a separate journey, which cost - you've guessed it - the same price as what you were trying to claim, the finance office was not open on the day of my "training" so couldn't claim anyway.

I had no training, not one thing A4E did helped me back into work. In fact, when the trainer saw my keyboard skills said: "Wow, you type really quickly. Wish I could! Wow!" and that was all the 'back to work' advice I got.

I eventually did get a job, and although had nothing to do with A4E as it was through a recruitment consultant, they would have been paid as I was off the dole's books.

A4E is a racket & everyone involved should be ashamed.

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Share BeckyP
7 November 2012 10:25AM
I am sure that there is insufficient money.... after all, if A4E is going to continue to award £8.4 Million Bonuses to Emma Harrison, and if Emma Harrison is going to charge her company £20M for the use of her Family Mansion, as reported within the Guardian, the taxpayer would be reasonably expected to pay more. NOT

Isn't it time that the Government cut the Apron Strings from the Welfare To Work Sector, the orthodox belief being that the only reason why candidates are unemployed is down to the candidate, and that Administrative Clerks within the W2W Sector (less qualified, competent and experience and JCP Admin Staff) must whip candidates into shape overcoming their "barriers to entering the employment market", rather than either indulge nor tolerate such shysters ate considerable expense ?

JCP can productively use the finance... through arranging the old style Job Clubs, manged in house.

And allow the W2W Sector to survive in a commercial, open competition world.

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Share drsocialpolicy
7 November 2012 10:25AM
This whining from A4E is truly pathetic - blame JobCentrePlus, blame Whitehall, blame small charities and call for more money to tackle unemployment. The likes of A4E are no more than private companies seeking public money for socially important work that guarantees them a nice tidy profit with minimal risk or accountability.

Active labour market policies on the supply side of the economy - basically a mixture of helping and hassling people on benefits often in areas with high levels of unemployment and low levels of job vacancies - is a very individualist approach to tackling unemployment. It is basically saying that 'we think you could be workshy and so we're going to prod you into paid work because that is good for you and the taxpayer.' A4E are part of the apparatus of this process and they are in it to make a profit; they're not doing it as a public service or for charitable purposes, they're doing it to make a profit.

As Composer rightly says, unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs - I'd add the condition a lack of jobs that pay a living wage and offer the associated health and wellbeing benefits of feeling part of a society that places such great value on paid work - so we need to have a range of policies that stimulate economic growth and job opportunities in the most deprived areas of the country where industrial decline has been felt most sharply (South Wales, large chunks of the north and many of our urban conurbations). This could be based on the model proposed by Lord Heseltine for ideological/party political reasons but it needs to be done rather than the deregulationist/leave it to the market to decide approach with localist rhetoric hiding centralisation of planning regulations that we have.

A4E and other for-profit companies need to be absolutely transparent in what they do, how much they're paid and what results they achieve compared to other private companies and public service providers like JobCentrePlus. There can be no hiding behind commercial confidentiality as the private sector equivalent of Sir Humphrey justifying the inefficiency of the civil service.

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Share BadAlbert
7 November 2012 10:19AM
I was with A4E (Arse4Elbow) for a year. It was a complete and utter waste of my time. I attended on time, every single time, and never once missed an appointment. Shame the same couldn't be said for them. Not that it mattered as I didn't want to be there anyway but had no choice. Why is attendance mandatory? Because nobody would EVER volunteer to sign up. Because they are a waste of time and everyone knows it. The Market? Get stuffed, Jonty. You're not a damn charity (even they are now sticking their bendy bulbous noses into the free labour trough) you're in it for profit and profit alone. You should move into the arms trade, it would at least be more respectable. AK4E. There you go, brand new logo, I've used my dynamic design skills for you there. That'll be £13,000 please.

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Share Composer
7 November 2012 9:54AM
Unemployment is caused by a lack of jobs, not a shortage of money going to fraudsters like A4E.

I challenge A4E to PUBLISH THEIR FIGURES IN FULL

But we know, don't we children, that they won't....

How many millions will A4E collect for helping 6,000 Comet workers and 1,000 Ford works 'work on their CV' ?

And ditto the chocolate factory sold to Poland and the trains not built in Derby etc etc ?

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Share rjs2662
7 November 2012 9:24AM
This is laughable. A4E have failed to help the jobless and have helped themselves to taxpayers money. The long awaited but still not published results of the work programme will show that A4E have achieved a worse result on getting people back to work than before any of these schemes were in place. So they are now saying the taxpayers are not giving them enough money, well they would wouldn't they.

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