From education to employment

Audits clear A4e of fraud

Welfare-to-work firm A4e has announced that it has been cleared of fraud under audits undertaken by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

In addition, a review conducted by law firm White & Case of its systems and controls has concluded that procedures that are currently, or set to be, in place meet obligations to minimise the risk of fraud, bribery or conflicts of interest, according to A4e.

“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,” said A4e CEO Andrew Dutton.

“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.”

A4e added that, under the White & Case review, the law firm did make recommendations for improvement to ensure A4e’s policies and procedures are applied across all its divisions. The company said it was already in the process of implementing these recommendations.

However, the DWP review also highlighted specific issues with A4e’s Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) contract. According to A4e, these issues relate to a period when it dealt with an unexpected volume of work, which led to administrative processes falling short of its standards. As a result of these issues, the DWP has decided to terminate this MWA contract.

A spokesperson for A4e said the value of the MWA contract represented less than 0.5% of the group’s total annual revenue. It was also
the smallest contract the group had with the DWP, and it still continues to run 16 contracts with the Department.

Natalie Thornhill

(Pictured: DWP Minister Chris Grayling)

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