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

Benefits spending 'to be £9bn higher'

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, May 30th 2012, p. 2

Calculations from the House of Commons Library showed that forecast spending on Jobseeker's Allowance and Housing Benefit would be £9.1bn higher during the 2010-15 Parliament than the Coalition government expected. Labour claimed that the increase in expected spending showed that the Coalition's Work Programme was failing. Officials pointed out that the rise in benefits spending was partly explained by the Government's decision to increase them in line with inflation.

Fraud case company A4e is stripped of work experience contract

R. Mason

Daily Telegraph, May 16th 2012, p. 6

The employment minister announced that the government was so unhappy with A4e's performance providing Mandatory Work Activity which helps people on benefits gain practical experience that it had cancelled the contract. While investigators found no evidence of fraud, A4e's internal controls on the Mandatory Work Activity contract in the South East had significant weaknesses. The documentation supporting payments was seriously inadequate. The move to cancel the contract followed an unrelated police fraud investigation and the resignation of chief executive Emma Harrison.

Trust to extend use of unpaid jobseekers in its hospitals

S. Malik

The Guardian, May 22nd 2012, p. 12

A hospital trust planned to extend a scheme under which dozens of unpaid jobseekers helped deliver patient care in its wards. After a pilot involving six unemployed people working unpaid for eight weeks to help feed patients and clean wards, Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals trust said it was aiming to extend the government work experience programme to all three of its hospitals. The trust said all participants in the initial pilot were CRB-checked and received two weeks of training at Sandwell College before carrying out their tasks in hospital wards, involving "general tidying, welcoming visitors, serving drinks to patients, running errands, reading to patients and assisting with feeding patients".

Welfare to work 'fraud scandal'

L. Peacock and R. Mason

Daily Telegraph, May 24th 2012, p. 1 +6-7

Written evidence submitted to the Public Accounts Committee by the former chief auditor at A4e, which held major government employment services contracts, stated that an unethical culture had led to systematic fraud at the company. He alleged that many of the jobs in which the company claimed to have placed clients were fictitious. He claimed that: 1) a bonus scheme for employees drove inappropriate behaviour by staff willing to commit fraud; 2) staff acted in the belief that if irregularities were discovered they could resign in the knowledge that no further action would be taken; and 3) fraud was still systemic two years after a 2009 audit report had warned that malpractice was not confined to one part of the country.

Women, employment and welfare to work

J. Faherty

Working Brief, Spring 2012, p. 18-19

This article discusses the role of mentoring and provision of networking opportunities in developing female staff in the employment services sector. Due to the economic situation, employment services staff are working under intense pressure and staff turnover is high. Offering the opportunity to network and be mentored is one way of providing support , encouraging retention and improving promotion prospects.

Work Programme: not a comfortable time

D. Simmonds

Working Brief, Spring 2012, p. 5

The economy is not generating enough jobs to enable Work Programme contractors to meet their targets of getting clients into employment. Contractors' targets and payments urgently need to be adjusted to reflect the state of the labour market.

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