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Private Welfare to Work – how well does that work?

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, March 24th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: corruption, Privatisation, uk politics, welfare - Tags:

This week the Government introduced their welfare changes to Parliament, and they’ll have their first reading next week.

They include of course the requirement for mothers of 1-year-olds on the DPB to look for work – as if they haven’t got enough work at home.  While it’s nothing new for National not to value the raising of future taxpayers because the work is unpaid, this is a whole new level of attack on women and children.

But there are other changes in the bill too, including the provision for private providers of “welfare to work”.  This is where the private sector gets paid for each person they get off welfare.

Sounds good, until you hear that means that as a beneficiary your police, welfare and other private government records are all shared with private companies.

And how’s it working out overseas?  The UK has been trying this for a couple of years now…

The main provider A4e is now facing serious corruption allegations.

A report has found ‘systemic fraud’.  Apparently it’s a lot easier to fill out a form saying someone has got a job than to actually get them one – especially in the midst of this economic climate.

Specific incidents include:

  • In Edinburgh one client walked out of a job after two hours complaining of sore feet and never appeared on the potential employer’s books, but A4e still claimed for a job outcome
  • In Bootle the auditor could find no trace of an unemployed man who was supposed to have found work at Royal Mail and no trace of the man who was supposed to have employed him
  • In Bridlington a cafe owner told the auditor that he had never even met a man A4e had claimed for and he wanted to know why A4e kept asking him to sign blank forms
  • In Woolwich A4e appear to have claimed for putting a benefits cheat back into the job they were already illegally working in. The auditor said of the incident: “This is a potentially fraudulent claim, and there is also potential benefit fraud.”

The report concluded that “potential fraudulent or irregular activity is not confined to one particular geographical area… and shows a potential systematic failure to mitigate the risk towards this behaviour at both an office and regional level”.

The head of the company, Emma Harrison1, has already stepped down as earlier reports of fraud surfaced, and there have been other controversies previously as the company’s assessing people for work had got ill people unfairly kicked off benefits.

Does this sound like something we want to replicate here?

1 Another friend of “call me Dave” Cameron’s, like Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson – just lucky he doesn’t get judged by the company he keeps…

42 comments on “Private Welfare to Work – how well does that work? ”

  1. “They include of course the requirement for mothers of 1-year-olds on the DPB to look for work – as if they haven’t got enough work at home.”

    Only those who added a child to an exisiting benefit; and only part-time, which may be, according to cabinet papers, as few as 12 hours a week. Are you opposed to trying to discourage people from having children on welfare?

    “While it’s nothing new for National not to value the raising of future taxpayers because the work is unpaid, this is a whole new level of attack on women and children.”

    Those children raised long-term on welfare, which are frequently those added to a benefit, are the least likely to become taxpayers.

    And MSD already contracts over 150 service providers to find work for beneficiaries.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      Are you opposed to trying to discourage people from having children on welfare?

      I suspect being on welfare is discouragement enough without having to add punishment to the children.

      Those children raised long-term on welfare, which are frequently those added to a benefit, are the least likely to become taxpayers.

      Everyone is looking at this the wrong way. Money is not a resource, working doesn’t produce it and taxing doesn’t produce income. What working does is distribute resources that belong to the community as such taxing doesn’t need to exist merely that everyone have a say in how those resources are distributed.

      And MSD already contracts over 150 service providers to find work for beneficiaries.

      And how’s that actually working?

    • Uturn 1.2

      “Are you opposed to trying to discourage people from having children on welfare?”

      Yes. I prefer the option of creating real jobs in worker friendly environments, paying at least liveable wages. I don’t reduce people to financial units, have transcended enough life experience to tolerate other’s choices and have no serious control/oppression issues to express. You’ve been banging on about those pesky welfare mothers for years, Lindsay. Your choice of course, but you sound like a you have a serious neurosis this far out. Get help.

    • millsy 1.3

      Piss off Lindsay, we all know you wont be happy until single mothers and their babies are living in their streets and in their cars.

      Why dont you just admit it.

    • NickS 1.4

      Ah Lindsay Mitchell, aka a pseudo-expert without a single peer-reviewed paper or book to her name, let alone any sign of academic qualifications that give her the backgrounding in social sciences to be able to navigate teh literature.

      Who also likes to make evidence free claims.

      So either put up or piss off permanently Lindsay, as from this day onwards I’ll be moving into archive troll mode, and everytime you post will bring up all the comments you’ve failed to provide factual backing for.

      Why? For the lulz of course.

      • felix 1.4.1

        Is Lindsay still pretending to be a think tank? Or has even she stopped believing that one?

        • NickS


          Did she actually do that? Not that it’s unheard off, all you need to do is look at Family First, which is pretty much a one-douche-show. Though she doesn’t seem to be doing it now, judging solely off her blog, rather she thinks she’s an “expert”. Kinda like Monckton.

    • Why do you think people on welfare in specific should be targetted to not have children? Do you buy into this myth that welfare is some intrinsic failure? Hope you work in a field with stable employment, for the sake of your self-esteem…

      I think we should encourage EVERYONE to have less children, although in ways that don’t restrict families’ abilities to care for those children once they do arrive.

    • prism 1.6

      12 hours a week could be spread over a week, involving expensive travel for 2 or 3 hours work.
      Having work skills is an important thing but if someone has a quota to meet it is likely that they will push the client into whatever is available no matter how difficult for the mother and child.

      It is not appropriate when people concerned about the impact of demanding employment terms on a single parent family to be answered with statistics about employment. How cold, you must hate such young women.

    • Alexandra 1.7

      Mothers who have a second child whose older child is fourteen will be forced to be available for FULL TIME WORK when their baby is ONE YEAR OLD.

      No we should not be discouraging mothers to have more than one child by punishing the child and treating the child as a second class citizen. In fact we need more children in our society as we do not have enough workers to support the increasingly elderly population. Mothers are bringing up the future workers who create the value from which profits and taxes are taken. If these children would not find work when they grew up; that would be the fault of the failing capitalist economy, the rip offs of the bankers and corpoations; not the fault of the mothers or their children . It would also be the fault of decades of financial and social deprivation- ie poverty and ill health caused by inadequate incomes, poor housing and health care; and the kind of prejudice and discrimination favoured by people like Lindsay.

      • Lindsay 1.7.1

        Alexandra, Thanks for a civil comment. Cabinet papers show that only 1 percent of the mothers who had a subsequent child while on a benefit had an existing youngest child aged 14+.


        Also your argument that we need more children in our society “…as we do not have enough workers to support the increasingly elderly population,” is the same argument for trying to raise the workforce particiaption of working age females. Often mothers.

        • McFlock

          One the baby’s first birthday, the govt will force into work only 1% of mothers, so it’s okay?

          • QoT

            Here’s how it goes, McFlock.

            If you’re a liberal, you see that only a very small minority of people have subsequent children while on a benefit, so you think “It’s not a major problem and there are other things we can do that don’t reek of hating beneficiaries.”

            If you’re Lindsay Mitchell, you see that only a very small minority of people have subsequent children while on a benefit, so you think “Those people must be EXTRA IRRESPONSIBLE AND UNWORTHY OF MAH TAXPAYA DOLLAHS, to the salt mines with them!!!”

            • McFlock

              [cliched ladylike scream from self]
              won’t anyone think of the taxpayer dollars!
              [swoons in a faint]

            • Lindsay

              At November 2011 29 percent of those on the DPB had added subsequent children.

              Children added are those who feature amongst the most disadvantaged of all children. What happens to those kids concerns me more than what they cost the taxpayer to support.

              • Colonial Viper

                Give us the real statistic you attempt to quote and the source please.

                Bear in mind that this Govt’s inept management of the economy means that its harder to find work and get off the DPB now.

                Edit – I see. The full statistic is women on the DPB who had added an additional child since 1993. 20 years is a pretty fucking broad swathe of time needed to get your figure!!!!

                • Lindsay

                  Source above at 1.7.1

                • Lindsay

                  The statistic pertains to people on the DPB at a point in time, the end of November 2011. It doesn’t pertain to everyboby that has been on the DPB over that period. To assist you to understand the difference here is another quote from government research:

                  “On average, sole parents receiving main benefits had more disadvantaged backgrounds than might have been expected:

                  • just over half had spent at least 80% of the history period observed (the previous 10 years in most cases) supported by main benefits
                  • a third appeared to have become parents in their teenage years.

                  This reflects the over-representation of sole parents with long stays on benefit among those in receipt at any point in time, and the longer than average stays on benefit for those who become parents as teenagers.

                  Had the research considered all people granted benefit as a sole parent, or all people who received benefit as a sole parent over a window of time rather than at a point in time, the overall profile of the group would have appeared less disadvantaged.”

              • rosy

                “What happens to those kids concerns me more than what they cost the taxpayer to support”
                So Lindsay, I guess you’re way into supporting women’s refuges, reducing access to alcohol and supporting young men into good employment and training so they don’t see shacking up with a solo mum as an answer to their financial problems?

                • Lindsay

                  Rosy, Sorry if this duplicates. My original comment disappeared due to hitting the wrong key. Cat interference.

                  I don’t at the moment but spent 5 years working with beneficiary parents as a volunteer. It’s interesting that you identify young men “shacking up with a solo mum” as an answer to their financial problems. Yes. I have seen that. Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily make them the best ‘step-dads’.

                  • Lindsay

                    Harry, Two.

                  • rosy

                    A no then. I suggest there are many more options that would successfully protect children than sending women out to work when their babies are one – especially if that work was casual-based, low-paid jobs requiring a variety of ‘babysitters’ to meet the requirements of the MSD and job.

                    And yes, it’s very interesting that young men shacking up with solo mums is and issue – the law of unintended consequences IMO. Poor education, minimal training or apprenticeship options, the dole at less than a living amount. Creating a generation of losers in the game of life by beating them with a stick with no accompanying carrot and hey presto, another beaten kid. Go figure.

  2. marsman 2

    Welfare for profit, prisons for profit, schools for profit, Public Service for profit, all neoliberal NAct scams. The losers are the tax-payers.

  3. Janice 3

    If they do it here Michelle Boag will probably be put in charge.

  4. KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 4

    This is another “Turn of the screw” by the crazy neoliberal madmen in control of the show at the moment. In the UK Camoron is intending to privatize the roads for gawd sakes!! Imagine driving down a road after a fee being paid to the owner who may be the oil rich kingdom of Oman for instance!
    A privatised system of putting harassment and bullying on the hapless unemployed . The UK is doing austerity which is dramatically increasing unemployment and there aren’t the jobs at the same time as persecuting bennies!

    Benefit Busters A4E

    “Why aren’t you all queuing up outside McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC if you all want a job so badly?”
    These are the words of Hayley Taylor, a trainer for “private welfare company” A4e, to a group of lone parents at a compulsory back-to-work course in Doncaster.

    This uncritical documentary is a glimpse into the government’s “radical idea” to bring in the private sector to be “tough on the workshy”.

    “If you want something, you have to work for it,” Taylor tells the women in her class, speaking slowly and carefully. “It cannot be your right for it to be given to you.”

    Her constant hectoring leaves many in tears as they are systematically made to feel guilty for taking “handouts”.
    Like the 19c again.

    Some of the women leave the course in disgust at such emotional bullying.
    Link: http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php%3Fid%3D18776&sa=U&ei=Uv5sT_-nOOeDmQXX8KiGCQ&ved=0CAQQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNE8artKaW7D3srheQfPjiS9MozmGQ

    O bye the way this wretched capo Hayley gets special privileges just like concentration camps: read:
    In fact the low wages mean that some are even worse off than they were on benefits.
    As the show ends, Taylor is invited to tea at the 20-bedroom, £5 million mansion owned by A4e chair Emma Harrison.
    Taylor is asked if she thinks it is right that Harrison is making £100 a week out of each unemployed person on the course.

    “At the end of the day,” she replies, “a successful businessperson finds a market and exploits it.”
    The unemployed are now a market to be exploited!

    She gets 100 pounds a week every week per unemployed person she harasses! This sort of stuff must be contra to the UN declaration of human rights.

    Hayley Taylor’s job is to persuade single mothers on benefits to go back to work.

    The company she works for, A4E, which is helping to tackle the Government’s target of getting 70 per cent of lone parents into paid work by 2010, is the largest welfare reform company in the world.
    A4E is run by multimillionaire entrepreneur Emma Harrison, who believes her business is ‘improving people’s lives by getting them into work.’
    Until recently, the 700,000 lone parents receiving benefit didn’t have to look for work until their youngest child was 16. Soon, they must either work, or be looking for work, once their youngest child is seven.
    At Doncaster A4E, Hayley runs a course called Elevate that aims to give lone parents the skills and confidence to enter the workplace and convince them they’ll be better off doing so. Cameras follow her group of ten single mothers during their intensive six-week course to prepare them for work

    Link to part 1 of the TV series Benefit Busters.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Spearmint Rhino is always hiring. They’ve got no issue with single mums as long as you are fit. Soon if you turn down a “job” there you can expect your benefit to be cut.

  5. KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 5

    Comments by prisoners of the motherland on A4E:

    a4e send out slaves every week to work for businesses with no hope of a job at the end of it, it is just slave labour…… i say boycott the businesses that take slaves from a4e

    The regime for those on JSA was outlined in the Conservative’s 2008 Work for welfare green paper, produced under Chris Grayling, now employment minister. It proposed that anyone initially refusing a suitable job would lose one month’s out-of-work benefits; a second refusal would result in a three-month penalty; and a third refusal would lead to exclusion from benefits for three years.

    In 2008, A4e overall had some 13,000 New Deal clients at its 100 or so centres throughout the country. This represented approximately 50% of the company’s activities, but 40% of it was subcontracted to smaller providers. In 2008-9, A4e received £84,433,506 for New Deal provision; that is, more than £6,000 per client. 

    Our corrupt government has taken away the rights of ordinary people to earn a living wage, which is one of the reasons why many people can be just as well off on the dole. No fat cat wants to pay a living wage. Wages have been driven down for the last 30 years while the cost of living soars. Hence the latest plan, work for benefit, which they also want to cut making many families homeless. We will end up like Syria trying to oust a corrupt regime from Westminster.

    Someone should try using this,sub sec 2.We come under this law so my opinion is they are breaking it. European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) Article 4 Servitude prohibts Forced Labour (4.2). European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) HUMAN RIGHTS- Article 4- SLAVERY

    (1)No one should be held in slavery or servitude.

    (2)No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

    I had the misfortune to have dealings with these arseholes through a company I was working for doing Learndirect courses. The poor sods through A4E were so pleased to attend their one day a week course where they got treated in a civilised manner it was heart breaking. I swear even the ones attending as part of their parole had more life in them.

    Shonkey boasts he is on good terms with Camoron. So look out kiwis we’ll be living in the same morass as Pom land soon!

    A4E are in involved in Workfare that is working for nothing or else your benefit is stopped and you starve on the street like the U$$$$$

    • Vicky32 5.1

      a4e send out slaves every week to work for businesses with no hope of a job at the end of it, it is just slave labour…… i say boycott the businesses that take slaves from a4e

      I have a friend in England who is a retired economist and she sends me details about this – “workfare” and how it’s (not) working…Apparently the word “workfare” was first used by Newt Gingrich, and recommended by him.

  6. KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 6

    Re Post 4 above”

    If you’re an unemployed youth scrabbling by on a hardship allowance (Because you have been sanctioned) Taylor and Harrison below might remind you of –

    ( O bye the way this wretched capo Hayley gets special privileges just like concentration camps: read:
    As the show ends, Taylor is invited to tea at the 20-bedroom, £5 million mansion owned by A4e chair Emma Harrison.
    Taylor is asked if she thinks it is right that Harrison is making £100 a week out of each unemployed person on the course.
    “At the end of the day,” she replies, “a successful businessperson finds a market and exploits it.”)

    -SS (Untersturmführer) Amon Goeth and Oskar Schindler partying up at the house. Next morning its time to sanction the next non performing bennie down to the level nearly of starvation.

  7. QoT 7

    A4e appear to have claimed for putting a benefits cheat back into the job they were already illegally working in.

    This is a capitalist definition of “genius”, I’m pretty sure. No wonder they want to implement it.

  8. Ordinary_Bloke 8

    In Australia labour market programs were privatised under the Howard government in 2000.

    Yet Abbello & Eardley (2000) found that clients afterwards did not see much difference between public and private providers.

    The nature of the problem had not changed, but funding was now going to private – often religious – providers. There was a bit of a frisson when the Islamic Council in Sydney applied to be an employment agent, but I think they got their funding. Otherwise, the main Christian denominations were well represented by City Mission (Presbyterians) and Centacare (Catholic), which plays a significant role in places like Tennant Creek and the Kimberley. Aboriginal councils have an employment function, but the extent varies.

    One significant player is Ingeus, set up by the spouse of ex-FM/PM Kevin Rudd, with operations in UK, France, Sth. Korea, Saudi Arabia, Aotearoa, Poland, and Germany. Selling it when he entered Cabinet, she is now re-entering the market.

    A recent arrival in NZ is A4E.

    John Key is currently visiting the UK and will doubtless return with new inspiration(s).

    Abello, D., Eardley, T., (2000). Is the Job Network benefiting disadvantaged job seekers ?
    Social Policy Research Centre Newsletter,‭ ‬No.‭ ‬77,‭ ‬October.



    • Ordinary_Bloke 8.1

      Abello, D., Eardley, T., (2000). Is the Job Network benefiting disadvantaged job seekers ?
      Social Policy Research Centre Newsletter, UNSW, No. 77, October.

  9. Quasimodo 9

    And then there is …

    Graduating from high school soon? Looking for a job in a high-growth field? Like working outdoors and traveling to exotic locales? How does $103,269 a year strike you?

    At myfuture.com, high-schoolers are encouraged “to explore all possibilities and gain insight into” possible futures through “unbiased, detailed information,” including data from the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Labor. “In addition to college admissions details, average salaries, and employment trends,” reads an explanation in that website’s fine print, “myfuture.com provides advice on everything from taking the SAT to interviewing for a first job to preparing for boot camp.” Did you catch that last part? Boot camp. Which brings us back to that $103,269 a year job.

    Myfuture.com just happens to be run by the Department of Defense and that high-demand job is as a “Special Forces officer.” In 2006, the website notes, there were only 1,493 slots in that field; by 2010, 2,320. That it’s an American job-growth area shouldn’t surprise any of us. After all, in the last year, Special Forces officers starred in a box-office topping motion picture, gunned down pirates, carried out assassinations, and expanded their global war from 75 to 120 countries. No wonder it’s been boom times for special ops officers.

    Myfuture.com is, however, far from the only Defense Department website making a play for a young audience. There’s BoostUp.org, with its “high school dropout prevention campaign,” sponsored by the Army. (Which makes sense because, as TomDispatch reported in 2005, the military has studied what makes college students drop out and how the armed services can capitalize on that urge.) At the other end of the educational spectrum, the Army sponsors eCYBERMISSION, “a free, web-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics competition for students in grades six through nine where teams can compete for state, regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their community.” And then there’s TodaysMilitary.com.“Young people need support as they consider their life path,” reads its pitch. “This site aims to help them and their families understand service options and benefits so they can make informed choices.”

    “Military service is not for everyone,” TodaysMilitary.com confides. “It requires self-discipline, intense physical work, and time away from family and friends while protecting America and its citizens at home and abroad. For some, these commitments impose too great a burden.” But here’s a surprise for those presumably too lazy, weak, or emotionally needy to do anything but go to college ( what snobs!): they’ll find a complete line-up of government agencies and national security types waiting to teach them (or beat them) on the quad, as Michael Gould-Wartofsky explains in his latest report on the state of state repression on American college campuses.

    It turns out myfuture.com may really be onto something. These days, given that you may have to brave batons, CS gas, and Tasers just to get to English 101 — and since officers in the Special Operations Forces need a degree anyway ( what snobs!) — some military training might come in handy before you head for college. Nick Turse


  10. KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 11

    A4E stands for Action 4 Employment It really represents Neoliberal Capitalism’s Cannabilistic nature triumphing. If there were the jobs the ordinary job centres would have no problem fitting people into work. A4E is a way to turn the unemployed into a saleable commodity to be exploited for profit, they’re just another market. They already have a presence here in NZ as does that other criminal organisation which cannibilises its victims Goldman Sachs. Shonkey is their poster boy.

    Link http://article.wn.com/view/2012/02/24/A4e_chairman_Emma_Harrison_steps_down/#

    Emma Harrison is a new rich money baron over the unemployed A4E pom serfs wasting time at her confinement centres she now lives in a mansion to prove it!

    link: http://article.wn.com/view/2012/02/24/A4e_chairman_Emma_Harrison_steps_down/#

    • KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 11.1

      Criminal organisation?
      You judge:

      Work scheme boss has to quit two posts in one week
      Emma Harrison, the government’s “back to work tsar” and boss of private firm A4e, was forced to resign twice last week.
      First she quit as Tory “family champion” and then as chair of the company as the scandal kept growing.
      It started when it was revealed that Harrison, as A4e’s largest shareholder, paid herself a dividend of £8.6 million—all money from government contracts.
      Then former A4e staff were arrested over a series of allegations of fraud. And it was revealed the firm has had to pay back money five times after investigations.

      The company has millions of pounds of government contracts to push unemployed people into work.
      It was even accused of forcing people to work unpaid in its own offices.
      It is also alleged that Harrison had been renting out her own stately home and other properties to the state-funded firm—for a total of £1.7 million.

      Link: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=27664

      Now A4E is a company the hapless Public have to pay massive dividends to the main shareholder in addition to straight fees for regular work outrageous!

  11. Ordinary_Bloke 13

    A few links on workfare, ingeus, deloitte, a4e, liberty, revolt, and the rights of man.
























    “The Revolt against Workfare spreads”



    “Deloitte LLP Shareholders, New Breed Slave Traders”






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