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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2012): Social security - UK - welfare to work

Forged signatures gave false picture of job placements

R. Syal

The Guardian, Mar. 7th 2012, p. 9

The welfare-to-work company A4e was forced to withdraw from part of a 900,000 project to place vulnerable people into work after an employee forged signatures on official forms. A4e was helping to place 630 youngsters with disabilities and mental health difficulties into jobs in Teesside in a project funded with European Union money. Former colleagues said the employee invented signatures to increase the number of people who appeared to have been placed in jobs or on courses. The disclosure added to questions concerning governance within A4e. The company, which had 180m worth of public contracts, was at the centre of a fraud investigation in Slough, where four people had been arrested. A subcontractor of A4e was also subject to an official inquiry. An inquiry into its Hull office resulted in one former employee being fined for falsifying job outcomes.

(See also The Guardian, Mar. 7th 2012, p. 8, The Guardian, Mar. 23rd 2012, p. 14)

Government U-turn on work programme

N. Watt, P. Wintour and S. Malik

The Guardian, Mar. 1st 2012, p. 1

The government abandoned a central plank of its work experience scheme when it was forced to bow to pressure from businesses to drop benefit sanctions against young people on the programme. Amid threats from some of Britain's largest employers that they would withdraw from the scheme, which had been criticised for exploiting young people, the Department for Work and Pensions announced that participants would keep their benefits even if they left a placement. The announcement by Chris Grayling, the employment minister, came after business leaders raised concerns that involvement in the voluntary work experience scheme was damaging their reputations.

Labour tries to outflank Tories on welfare

A. Grice

The Independent, Mar. 9th 2012, p. 2

The article reports on plans by Labour to fight unemployment and welfare dependency by introducing a system where the unemployed would be guaranteed a job but would be penalised if they refused a job offer or offer of training. The 'penalty system' would mean that those on the dole who were offered a job or placement and refused it would have to choose between six months in employment or six months without benefits. This was not yet official party policy and was likely to face internal opposition.

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