Guilty: The four A4e staff who fiddled the books helping lone parents get back to work

A4e: Improving People's lives -obviously not for lone parents in this case

A4e: Improving People’s lives -obviously not for lone parents in this case

Remarkably unreported this month (outside one Daily Mail report) is that four of private work provider A4e’s staff who ripped off the taxpayer and lone parents have pleaded guilty to 30 acts of fraud and forgery. 

 I am indebted to FE Week for a report from Reading Crown Court that saw the four admit their crimes and now face sentencing later. It reports:

 “Ex-A4e recruiters Julie Grimes, Aditi Singh, Bindiya Dholiwar and Dean Lloyd, pleaded guilty to more than 30 charges of forgery and fraud when they appeared  at Reading Crown Court  on Monday, February 3.

The case followed a police investigation into financial rewards claimed for helping the unemployed into work through the European Social Fund  ‘Aspire to Inspire’ Lone Parent mentoring programme, which ended in July 2011.

It is alleged that they forged documentation to support fraudulent claims for rewards for work with learners who had not found work or did not exist over a period of four years until February last year.

Grimes, 51, of Staines, admitted nine charges of forgery and Lloyd, 37, of Milton Keynes, admitted 13 offences of forgery.

Dholiwar, 27, of Slough, admitted seven counts of forgery while Singh, 30, of Slough, admitted two counts of forgery and one of fraud. No date was set for set for sentencing.

The magazine reports that the trial of eight other ex-A4e defendants, who pleaded not guilty to all charges at Reading Crown Court, including conspiracy to cheat, is expected to start on October 6.

A further defendant, Nikki Foster, aged 30, of Reading, recruiter, was not at court on Monday. She was due to appear later this month.

The magazine also carries a statement from the chief executive of A4e  who appears to be remarkably complacent that everything is OK in the rest of the company.

Andrew Dutton, A4e chief executive, said: “I am deeply disappointed that a small number of people who formerly worked for A4e on the Aspire to Inspire contract in the Thames Valley up to 2011 clearly let down the people they were supposed to help, and in turn the taxpayer, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and A4e.

“A4e co-operated fully with the police enquiry, after our own internal investigation first brought these incidents to light.
“Since these events took place, we have augmented our controls and processes to seek to ensure that nothing like this could ever happen again…..

 He goes on: “I would also like to say thank you to our 3,000 loyal, hard-working and principled staff who each day deliver public services to the highest standards that help to improve the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable in our society.

“I am intensely proud of what they do and deeply sorry that the allegations have for so long cast a shadow over their good work.”

There is a little bit of amnesia here. I seem to remember a certain Commons Public Accounts Committee report in 2012 following hearings from whistleblowers  who worked for A4e among others.

Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, is reported as saying at the time “Where the Government chooses to use private companies to deliver public services it is essential that proper arrangements are in place to prevent and detect fraud and malpractice. In this instance, the DWP’s arrangements for overseeing and inspecting its contractors were so weak that vital evidence on potential fraud and improper practice was not picked up. The Department failed, for example, to obtain from A4e damning internal audit reports produced in 2009 which pointed to instances of potential fraud and malpractice across the country.” …

“If it had not been for whistleblowers, a range of systemic issues would not have been identified. The Department might have identified these issues if it had asked the right questions of providers. The recent investigation into A4e looked at particular allegations of fraud but not at the more fundamental question of whether the company was a ‘fit and proper’ contractor.”

 

Need I say more! I won’t in respect of the eight other A4e employees so they get a fair trial.

 

19 thoughts on “Guilty: The four A4e staff who fiddled the books helping lone parents get back to work

  1. EVERYONES ON THE FIDDLE, THIS IS NOTHING NEW,,,,JUST MENTION ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE GOVERNMENT, AND THE COMPANIES THAT THEY EMPLOY, AND YOU CAN BE SURE THAT SOMEONE WILL BE STEALING SOMETHING, JUST LIKE THE TORIES, GREEDY, LIERS,AND THIEVES.

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  2. Pingback: Farmers, floods, and fraud | alittleecon

  3. A4e employees have my heartfelt sympathy. To pick out 4 employees trapped in a job, where a company protected at the highest levels of the establishment, are merely coerced into retaining their jobs by fiddling figures is an unsupportable betrayal of justice. As a former inmate of A4e my experience was that this was a company which required its employees to sail very close to the wind. Just looking at the economics of paying companies by results – getting the long term unemployed into jobs in the face of better qualified EU residents and a severe economic depression – beggars belief. Neither A4e nor any other company can create jobs from thin air. The only way A4e and similar companies can compete and retain government contracts leads one to suspect that endemic corruption is the only way these sorts of companies can make a profit.

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    • I entirely agree with your sentiments about the working practices of A4e which if it insists on payments by results is likely to push employees into cutting corners and eventually possibly fiddling results. An in depth analysis I did on placements in one town Bridlington seemed to suggest some people were placed with companies going bust, companies that appeared not to exist and firms run by fly by night people whose businesses did not last.

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  4. I would not be surprised at this as it’s still is happening at a4e branch am at at the moment. I have witnessed at first hand a lot of wrong doings. As I client at a4e I have been refused for the support i needed to get back into work, by advisor and manager which resulted me being there longer then I needed to be there and lost few good jobs along the way..even had mandatory appointments to attend where there’s no advisor but was told not to worry I will be marked in it won’t affect my jsa. From the start of my a4e day I wasn’t made aware of travel, uniform payments. When I was put forward for a job by them I had to fund my own DBS and travel money. When I got hired the hours that was posted by a4e was not what the company offered me which resulted in me coming back to a4e. I was even offered money by an advisor.I ordered to pay for my DBS and pay him back after through text messages.While I was at a4e training he texted me which I was shocked and didn’t/still don’t know what to do with it,but I politely refused. I am not a criminal and would never cheat the government system. I could really go on about how this company is ripping off the tax payers as well as the government but it’s really sad to see these sort of people work and earn their money by scamming the system provided by the government to support people like me.

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