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UK National News

23/02/2012

A4e Had Jobseekers Work In Their Own Offices

A4e, the company at the center of a police investigation into the fraudulent misuse of government welfare-to-work contracts compelled jobseekers to work, for free, within its own offices.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has revealed that a freedom of information request made last year about the company showed that A4e, in an apparent conflict of interest, had jobseekers which it was meant to be helping back into work, instead working in two of its own offices.

The four-week work placements were compulsory with jobseekers told they would lose their entitlement to benefits if they did not agree to, essentially, work for free. The list obtained by the DWP from just one A4e office show the placements where in Camden and Woolwich.

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The list also shows that in the 12 months leading up to June 2011 the company sent people to complete unpaid work in Asda, Sainsbury’s, Oxfam and various other small businesses and charities.

This comes after four former employees were arrested on suspicion of fraud and further revelations that the company, whose chair is an adviser to David Cameron, had to repay public funds on five occasions after government investigations found evidence of "irregularities", and that they have been investigated a total of 9 times by the DWP since 2005.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, David Cameron praised work experience schemes saying: "I think we should encourage companies and encourage young people to expand work experience because it gives people a chance of seeing work and all that involves and gives them a better chance to get a job."

Questions are now being raised about where private companies running back-to-work schemes such as Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) and the Work Programme are allowed to place unemployed people.

(H)


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"A4e, the company at the center of a police investigation into the fraudulent misuse of government welfare-to-work contracts compelled jobseekers to work, for free, within its own offices."