Government terminate contract with welfare-to-work organisation
The Government has ended a contact with welfare-to-work provider A4e, following an audit of its commercial relationship with the organisation.
In a statement, Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the Department for Work and Pensions has decided to terminate the Mandatory Work Activity contract with A4e for the South East.
The DWP undertook the audit following an allegation against the company earlier this year which suggested that A4e employees may have claimed payments for Mandatory Work Activity participants who had not in fact been placed in work.
The investigating team found no evidence of fraud, but identified some “weaknesses” in A4e’s internal controls on the Mandatory Work Activity contract in the South East.
Mr Grayling said: “The documentation supporting payments was seriously inadequate, and in
a small number the claim was erroneous.
“There was also a high incidence of noncompliance with other relevant guidance (including A4e’s own processes).
“The process established prior to March fell significantly short of our expectations. As a result, the Department has concluded that continuing with this contract presents too great a risk and we have terminated the Mandatory Work Activity contract with A4e for the South East.
“Contingency plans are in place to ensure there is continuity of support for participants in the Mandatory Work Activity programme.
“We have made clear to A4e that we continue to require the highest standards of governance in relation to all their other contracts.
“We are reminding all our other providers of their obligations and our requirements in this regard and, should any further allegations arise, we will examine the evidence thoroughly.”
Andrew Dutton, Group CEO, A4e said: “These findings demonstrate what I have always maintained to be true – that there is no place for fraud at A4e and make it clear that A4e has strong controls around its flagship contract the Work Programme.
“Our immediate task is to further enhance our controls to cement our position as a trusted provider of front line public services.
“The findings also vindicate the hard work our 3,500 staff do – day in, day out. All over the country we’re helping tens of thousands of people into training and work, knowing we have in place robust levels of quality and assurance.
“As a company, I recognise that we haven’t got it right all of the time, but we are committed to taking responsibility for our mistakes and remedying them.
“No other provider has undergone such a thorough and forensic review of its contracts, and the positive outcome speaks for itself – this is huge reassurance for taxpayers and our customers.”
A statement from A4e went on to say the DWP’s review raised some specific issues which related to a period when the organisation dealt with an unexpected volume of work, which exceeded the anticipated monthly contract volume.
The statement said: “During this time A4e’s focus was for staff and service partners to ensure customers swiftly found effective work placements.
“However , in the same period, our administrative processes fell short of our own standards and those required by DWP, and to this end we have accepted that the MWA contract will be terminated.”