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Thursday 22 March 2012

Verity Murphy | 19:02 UK time, Thursday, 22 March 2012

Tonight we have a report on work-to-welfare company A4e.

We have obtained the results of a confidential 2009 internal audit of work by A4e's top recruiters in which auditors found examples of staff claiming for putting people into jobs which did not exist, jobs which did not qualify for payment and fabricating paperwork to back up claims. Read more about it here.

Tim Whewell is in Toulouse where police shot and killed the gunman who carried out a spate of murders, but where questions are now being asked about how a known radical returning from al-Qaeda-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan was able to stockpile weapons and carry out the attacks with the intelligence services having little or no idea of his whereabouts.

We have more on the Budget and whether plans to change tax allowances for the elderly amount to a raid on pensioners' incomes.

Plus musician Mark Ronson talks to us about his Olympics theme which is to be the music for Coca Cola's London 2012 adverts.


  • Comment number 1.

    "but where questions are now being asked about how a known radical returning from al-Qaeda-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan was able to stockpile weapons and carry out the attacks with the intelligence services having little or no idea of his whereabouts."

    Here's a good clue for you...

    French Terror Attack: All the Hallmarks of an Intelligence Psy-op and False Flag

    “More specifically, Merah was handled by France's DCRI intelligence service "for years," according to Claude Gueant, the interior minister.”

  • Comment number 2.

    Is wood bio-mass electricity generation literally cutting Pinocchio's nose for Timber ?

    Power generation from bio-mass is being spun by the UK government on environmental grounds as it is alleged to cut Co2 emissions by theoretically using a renewable fuel source, yet in truth it represents environmental vandalism on a potentially massive scale. It is already the case that mature timber suitable to be sawn up for use in construction is being chipped into pellets to burn in the various bio-mass boilers already operating in the UK. It could be said that its OK to use off-cuts, but that deprives the chipboard industry of its raw material and thus any subsidy artificially inflates the price of the timber products in general you may find at your local DIY store. Furthermore, the use for wood in energy production also significantly increases the pressure on endangered tropical rain-forests, perhaps to a point where ply-wood imported from rain-forests is made comparatively less expensive compared to our own indigenous chip-board made from previous waste wood. The fact that the fuel for the proposed power station at Hull is to be imported only exports the potential environmental vandalism overseas, it may be the case that the cost of basic essentials in life like toilet roll could also be falsely inflated.

    Its high time to forget the alleged " Co2 emissions drive run away global warming " argument and get back to basic ecological principles, using wood bio-mass as a major fuel is little more than a pseudo-green fake ecologist stock market inspired investment scam to soak up any taxpayers subsidy money for corporate interests, and to promote false economic growth in our economy and thereby increase the financial apartheid between rich and poor.

  • Comment number 3.

    I can't really imagine why such a fuss has been cooked up about freezing personal allowances for pensioners, after all Gordon brown did it with the working age personal allowance for years. Why should people on second pensions get special treatment anyway, they probably all got tax breaks on all their contributions over the years. In fact if Osborne had cut all top rate tax relief on all pensions contributions perhaps he could have funded for the personal allowance up to the full Lib-Dem pledge 10K and abandoned the August rise in fuel duty. Of course that would never do for the Lib-Dems as it would have shot their main fox for the 2015 election, the climate scam stuff is looking pretty tarnished at the moment. It only a matter of time before the truth about Co2 is fully out in Germany and the EU as a whole is bound to follow.

  • Comment number 4.

    Can someone tell me where yesterday's programme and blog are?

  • Comment number 5.


    Forgive me, try as I might I cannot read Kurt Nimmo and keep a straight face.

    Nothing in Ha'aretz?

  • Comment number 6.

    It's a bit rich the Government claiming that pensioners are in for a windfall when pensions are up-rated to catch up with the cost of living. I wonder how the Chancellor would manage on a pension.

  • Comment number 7.

    Free bus passes, free tv licences, free this, free that; I'm unsure what pensioners feel so ill done by; you cannot lose what you do not have; the aforementioned concessions will most definitely come under the microscope in the not too distant future, no matter who is in power; the ageing demographic will drive the changes.

    The future lies with the youth of the country and their productive employment must take precedence over the making the rut of the entitled pensioner as comfortable as possible to win their vote.

    Well done the French! Would the bizzies ever have caught the culprit here? More likely we would all be subjected to longer checks at airports while permits would be issued "at a price worth paying" to live or work near schools and these fees would pay for more cctv.

  • Comment number 8.


    See off the last of Sport ideals - turn everything to carp.

    The world needs a de-coke.

  • Comment number 9.


    How very '9/11'. Those who believe can be manipulated by fear of 'Terror'; those who can see the deliberately revealed clues to false flag, can be manipulated by the terror of realising THEY CAN DO NOTHING. And in between is a welter of disinformation, debunking etc. Those whom 'the gods' (elite) wish to destroy, they first make mad.

  • Comment number 10.

    "systematic management failure" says Mr Mason, "not isolated incidents".

    "systematic management failure" seems to be the natural state of this nation.

    would that you (and the government!) paid some attention to the evident "systematic management failure" at the Ministry of Justice which has led to billions of £'s of uncollected fines.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Good programme re how about an enquiry into ATOS much are they paid, are there targets?? How much are so called 'health care professionals' paid. Are they on a pay by results? Why was this IT company chosen to over ride GP's integrity over being fit for work? Why are so large a percentage of claimants being "deemed fit for work" having their decisions overturned on appeal. Why is there such a huge backlog of appeals? Are their any MPs with connections to this compamy etc etc

  • Comment number 13.

    5. 1. 9.

    whatever one's beliefs, I find it rather interesting that, following a 32 hour siege, Mr Merah was killed by "a single shot in the head" (according to a French official).

  • Comment number 14.

    I visited A4E Oxford in 2008 looking for employees for my company. I had to sit in a small office for half an hour waiting for someone to see me.
    Whilst in there, A4E employees were openly talking about job seekers supposedly not turning up for jobs and interviews, and how as a result they would have their benefits stopped for six months or more.
    What shocked me was that the A4E employees were making decisions about those peoples benefits (and therefore their ability to buy food etc) on the hoof. There was no consultation, no proof, no tribunals, just a casually made decision.

  • Comment number 15.

    As a person who has been to a4e three times, in the past 5 years, each time they have promised a job, or a placement. Three times, i have been let down by them. Placement officers giving up, jobs that i was not able to do so the interviewer said no point. Being bullied, insulted, talked down too by staff who were supposed to help you. I do say a few staff do their best in a4e but they are under pressure to get people off their books however they can. I told the job centre at each time i went to a4e all the problems. but nothing was ever done. The only thing i learned at a4e was to cover my back. keep copies of everything never sign anything without reading it. I am not surprised at this past report, but i do question the fact they keep saying its in the past, If in the past they got away with it, they will most likely carry on trying.. Whats telling is that this audit was only done on 20% of 20 of the top staff this equates to only 224 cases .. a4e has 3,500 staff how many other cases that were never found, or investigated.

  • Comment number 16.


    Daniel Finkelstein and Martin Sorrell on last night and Margeret Hodge and David Grossman on tonight. What's the name of the programme againe?!?

    Nice to see Mishal Husain on btw for some ethnic balance. Easy on the eye as well!

  • Comment number 17.

    Gosh, this debate is muddle and incredibly boring. I am almost bored enough to go and switch on the Son of Dimberbly show.

    You have excelled yourselves tonight NN - you have combined 3 boring people into a boring conversation. If we are lucky a vortex of boringness will form between them and suck them in.

  • Comment number 18.


    What do we expect from Westminster? Truth or lies; candour of deceit; reality or illusion; self-serving or service to us; HONOUR OR DISHONOUR?

    Now: what should we expect from a company working closely with Westminster? When will NewsyNighty learn to look behind the third arras? Corruption spreads like disease.

    A4e SIMPLY FOLLOWED WESTMINSTER PROTOCOL. Politics: The art of self deception wrapped in the craft of deceiving others 'for their own good'.

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 19.

    Predictably, there are utterly synthetic howls of outrage over A4e from politicians Hodge and Byrne.

    Some people may recall the fiasco of Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) on Labours watch which saw some £150 million of taxpayers pounds go straight into the pockets of criminals and note that ILA was a remarkably similar fraud to that being alleged as systemic at A4e.

    The common thread between the ILA fraud and A4e is that both cases involve politicians spending taxpayers money with no meaningful accountability.

    By that I mean no politician who sanctioned these schemes will face any financial penalty whatsoever for this.

    Overnight, politicians would stop 'loving spending other peoples money' if they were made personally responsible for the schemes they approve.

    Only yesterday I heard of somebody who has just lost his company a substantial amount of money and he was instantly dismissed.

    No politician is ever instantly dismissed despite losing the taxpayer colossal sums.

  • Comment number 20.

    #2 NollyPrott

    slight technical cockup on the part of TPTB, the price of wood wasn't supposed to rise until after those worthless but expensive to maintain pieces of public woodland had been sold off. As you point out, the price of wood will rise due to demand for woodfuel, large swathes could be deforrested and the land parceled up and sold off with planning permission (due to relaxed planning laws).
    It would make the remaining forests more valuable (those would be the ones that are already used for capital gains tax exempt investments)
    There is a lot of money at stake here.

  • Comment number 21.


    One of those dopey 'initiatives' to help individuals back to work, I think.

    But no surprise that Westminster fails continually - MPs are not chosen for competence, just for subservience, and all the attributes we normal folk find anathema.

    “Best of all the systems tried so far” - only a politician would trot out a calumny of that order.


  • Comment number 22.

    My sister has experience of these "back to work companies" she wasn't entitled to benefits, her husband worked, but she was getting NI paid, and she kept going to one of these organisations trying to find work.

    The ironic thing being everyone who interviewed her was foreign.

    Funny being interviewed when you have 32 years of experience working in this country, but you happen to be in your fifties, (almost impossible to find work) (how are women of 65 ever going to find a job?!) to be told off by some newly arrived immigrant!

  • Comment number 23.


    Hi Lizzy. When they showed the "work stations" of A4e, I noticed the sun had come out.

    And there was our fairytale Queen - telling the linchpin-narrative of this charade-nation, with the delusional architect, of the unrealisable multicultural nightmare, sitting among all the other Westminster Creatures whose incongruity ensures our enduring misery.

    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 24.

    Re: A4E

    Making no comment or observation about the truth or otherwise of the allegations in tonight's programme, I would like to comment on the implications this might have, if the story is even partially correct.

    A4E, along with quite a number of other recruitment/personnel companies, is involved in providing the Work Programme, Ian Duncan Smith's payment-by-results workfare project.

    These companies had quite a protected "discussion" about the rates of payment and the contract the DWP was offering them during the pre-contract stage - there were several heated debates behind closed doors where the contractors raised theri concerns about making the payments regime viable.

    The contract offers a minimal payment up front, then more fees according to results. Many of the companies were reluctant to take on the contracts because of the financial risk associated with them - loads of work to begin with, but only payment for getting people back into work and keeping them there for some reasonable period - the employment agency version of "no win - no fee".

    If, as Paul's report would suggest, the actual "strike rate" of getting people into work isn't anywhere near what the "expected" rate from A4E's previous performance would suggest, then this will have profound implications.

    Firstly the financial models developed by the Work Programme companies for their bids may now not be sustainable, if they were based on the sort of peformance claimed by A4E, but now called into serious question by the leaked auditor's report.

    Secondly the possible removal of A4E as a supplier for the DWP will leave a large hole in the coverage and if other companies now decide to withdraw too, the whole programme may flounder.

    The other ticking timebomb is the rising level of unemployment and the issue of where new jobs are going to come from, the Chancellor having done nothing in the budget to provide a growth strategy, an industrial policy and having announced further major public spending cuts.

    There have already been an indpendent report questioning the projected effectiveness in the Work Programme that say the official projections of employment rates are far too optimisitic and that the likely success rate will be much lower.

    I think it was the NAO, but can't remember exactly, but in a way this report is a form of confirmation of the leaked A4E audit - i.e. that the real performance is unlikely to get anywhere near the claimed track record of the piloit schemes.

    Personally I'm in favour of a mentoring approach to help peopl

  • Comment number 25.

    THE BOTTOM LINE (pun) #24

    Your points are sound, and well taken, RB. Meanwhile: I am in no doubt that companies who work for Westminster 'pick up' on the DISHONOURABLE ethos of deviousness and manipulation. Money is to be 'gathered in', not earned.

    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 26.

    Surely not Mark Ronson. Was there a competition or did he/his agent just have the right connections to enable him to tap into the £multi-billion overspend? All of a sudden the Olympics looks like the Millennium gravy train.

  • Comment number 27.

    LET'S DEFINE A 'RESPONSIBLE DRINKER' (to help Theresa May and the Creatures)

    One who swallows industrial solvent, because it has been done for thousands of years, but who may be forgiven because (a) we have been schooled out of mature thinking (institutionalised) and (b) global impingement, onto a brain suited for 'local' existence, is intolerable without 'anaesthetic'.

    Just another trap for the Ape Confused by Language.

  • Comment number 28.

    Thanks Barry - and A4e has now been "involved" in projects for all three main political parties and been paid hundreds of millions by them - so "Westminster" is exactly what we are talking about.

    The blog as per usual cropped my posting: here's the missing bit:

    Personally I'm in favour of a mentoring approach to help people into work - sink or swim is a ridiculous approach to getting a job, but Paul Mason's remark about a "duty of care" on the government to job seekers is exactly right.

    Unless the DWP grips this up - and rapidly - we will see scandal after scandal -I can picture it now - 16 year old teenage girls sent to "lap dancing clubs" - benefits cheats helped to commit fraud by these agencies, alocoholics sent for jobs driving minicabs - the scope for this to go deeply pearshaped is massive.

    Workfare is not the same as mentoring - it's a mindset which is aimed at forcing people to take VERY low paid, semi-jobs in the darker corners of the economy simply to cut welfare costs - it's a spivs charter to exploit the unemployed who have the threat of their benefit being suspended held like a gun to theri heads - and in doing so, this also shafts legitimate employers who pay reasonable wages, take care of their workers and act responsibly.

    If the whole thing comes to a grinding halt, the entire ideological basis for the Work Programme and IDS's carrot of mentoring and the stick of benefits cuts will have been holed below the waterline and the Coalition will be left without a credible solution to mass unemployment, once it fails.

    At which point we might just begin to realise that the root cause of the problem is an acute lack of investment in manufacturing in the UK, mass offshoring of jobs, untenable levels of labour coming in from the EU, low and falling living standards and the massive abuse of international trade by countries like China.

    Globalisation cannot work - it is unsustainable to produce in one country and consume on another fuelled by ever rising levels of national and personal debt.

    Trying to force down living standards to become competitive with virtual slave labour economies is rapidly turning the bottom end of the labour market into a new form of virtual serfdom - the very thing Hayek warned about in his libertarian writings which the so-called "reforms" of the benefits and employment systems are supposed to prevent.

    Well done Paul Mason & the NN Team - a cracking good story which will run & run!

  • Comment number 29.

    'Plus musician Mark Ronson talks to us about his Olympics theme which is to be the music for Coca Cola's London 2012 adverts.'

    Meanwhile, back at the trivial stuff on our advert free national broadcaster...

    '...drawing moral equivalence between brutal atrocities committed by terrorists and dictatorial regimes, with the legitimate military operations of a fully democratic government..'

    Not sure about that, but I do 'get' the distinction between those who go out to kill on innocents on purpose, and those who seek to try and avoid it, if not always very successfully. It seldom serves democracies with free presses to do so. Remind me, in that neck of the woods who falls under the latter category.. and who doesn't, but gets the full force of a rather forgetful MSM as it suits?

    Maybe it's just the way it gets reported?

    'died when shots were fired'

    I've popped in a request to explain how some simply end up dead, whilst other seem to get more detailed explanations as to their passing.

    ps: Pop 'Fogel' in their search and see what you get.

  • Comment number 30.

    costs of migration

    the trend of spending increasing billions on internal security against our 'own' nationals has no end.

    just name calling them as 'monsters' or whatnot is indulgent and ,worse, missing the point of the roots of the hate? If it was just madmen and monsters we wouldn't need billions spent on it a year nor have the national threat level continuously near its highest? Or if we did what does that say about the competence of our security services?

    the one of the single biggest bills at the olympics is security. a few weeks costing hundreds of millions a day. so 'they' can bleed us dry just by the mere idea they might do something. which means they have won the battle of the narratives.

  • Comment number 31.


    It's just another branch of blagging (that word might not pass the Blogdog) which is lingua franca to Mendacious Puppets.

    In passing: Dave has just called Salmond "woolly". Better woolly than being a rapacious wolf with his 'bottom' hanging out of poorly fitting sheep’s clothing?

    * Other parties are available - all function under the Westminster Ethos.

  • Comment number 32.


    wednesday was a 'free'.

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear Mr Mason,

    This was an excellent piece of work last night. HOWEVER, not one of you alluded to Jonty Olliff-Cooper, who is the Director of Strategy and Policy and best friend/former Tory Central Office employee of David Cameron. Cooper was GIVEN this job and when I challenged this on the basis of A4E’s equality of opportunity policy, I was threatened with legal action if I published this claim.

    This is a clear vested interest and this is why the Tories are stuck with them, and complicit and collusive.

    Equally, it seems the Labour party are embarrassed because Emma Harrison’s good friend and Neighbour David Blunkett, who helped Emma set the company up has been on the pay roll ever since.

    I should appreciate your comments on this matter! As you are ignoring a very big Elephant in the room, and you must have reasons for so doing. The effect is the public are being hoodwinked, and the taxpayers – abused!


    Gordon McIntosh

  • Comment number 34.

    33. "Cooper was GIVEN this job and when I challenged this on the basis of A4E’s equality of opportunity policy, I was threatened with legal action if I published this claim."

    why did you not call their bluff then? if the situation was as described, you'd have won in court.

  • Comment number 35.

    uk courts are designed for extracting fees. you can go bankrupt and have to sell your house sooner than a verdict comes out.

  • Comment number 36.

    Well done to Paul and Newsnight for highlighting this.

    Don't know much about this particular scheme, but I just don't trust this kind of thing, ever since the YOP and YTS schemes from years ago.

    About 15 years ago I was on a government sponsored Training For Work scheme, which was essentially the private sector being paid to provide people with training to help them back to work.

    I was there for several months, and essentially we were sat at a computer and left to our own devices for substantially all of that time. Training was minimal and the materials were poor quality. But in a way this was just as well, as the class consisted of graduates with programming experience all the way to the semi-literate, who were self-evidently completely wasting their time - and taxpayers' money - being there.

    I recall a couple of days when we were shunted into another room on the pretext that it was to give us experience with different software, but the reality was that the training company had been given a contract with a private sector firm to train its employees, so the govt-sponsored trainees were shoved next door.

    I did manage to hone my computer skills during the several-month period, but I could have done a lot more - and at significant less cost to the taxpayer - if they had merely given me a computer to use at home. And others clearly shouldn't have been there in the first place.

    Another nonsense I was close to was New Deal job subsidies in the taxi trade. Proprietors were paid half the wage bill to take on new drivers at the NMW. And these were working alongside other drives paid by commisson and earning less than the NMW equivalent, so taking on the subsidised drivers meant less work and therefore less earnings for the existing drivers.

    I knew one proprietor with a small fleet of cars who had taxpayer-subsidised employees working alongside drivers working in the black economy (as is the norm in much of the trade). Same job, just different earning patterns. The New Deal employees benefitted from a fixed wage, while the commission-based earners benefitted from it being de facto tax exempt.

    Of course, the proprietor benefitted from both.

  • Comment number 37.


    I take your inference to be that right and truth prevail in UK courts? Just checking . . .

  • Comment number 38.

    rail privatisation, gas, water, all rip offs and still we have the apologists on these websites trying to justify a wholesale theft of national assets just who do these people think they are? We really do get the country we deserve, well, I hope they are satisfied...

  • Comment number 39.

    37. "I take your inference to be that right and truth prevail in UK courts?"

    from personal experience (I once had a dispute with a landlord ;-) ): preparing well and conducting my own defense worked extremely well, no complaints. but I don't much trust the solicitors, or the CPS. *shudder*

  • Comment number 40.



    In passing: If the landlord had won the lottery and bought himself one of those silks who delight in turning careful preparation into proof of guilt (so admired by judges) would you have won?

  • Comment number 41.



    even an expensive barrister would have struggled (breached planning permission, endangered lives of tenants, perjury), in fact I think it was her legal representatives who misled her into contesting -- unsurprising really.
    anyway, history now..

  • Comment number 42.


    I have just been assured by David Cameron (via his PPS) that the Liar Flyer

    is NOT a 'False Instrument'. It follows from that assertion, that the Liar Flyer's statements are TRUE, yet I have found NO ONE who is able to show how to read them so. (Dave did not offer THAT service.)

    When the Prime Minister behaves in this way, and is fully supported at every level by Westminster, there is no call on any branch of society from banks, to police and courts, TO EXERCISE INTEGRITY. UK is intrinsically corrupt. "Trickle down" at its best.

    Nuff sed


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