29 Jun 2012

New stats highlight A4e’s regional failures

Following revelations from Channel 4 News about the failings of welfare-to-work company A4e, further statistics show their poor performance happening in a region where jobs are plentiful.


In Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire 419 jobseekers were sent to A4e under the government’s Work Programme between June 2011 and the end of March 2012.

Yet A4e succeeded in placing just 7 people into jobs that lasted 13 weeks or more – a success rate of just 1.7 per cent.

This despite the fact that the unemployment rate in the town is just 2.2 per cent – with only 1600 people claiming jobseekers allowance. Nationally the unemployment rate is 8.2 per cent.

A4e is the prime provider of the government’s work programme in the Thames Valley region which includes prosperous areas like Winchester, High Wycombe, Oxford Reading and Slough.

Yet the company’s success rate in obtaining sustainable jobs across the region was just 2.83 per cent – compared to unemployment black spots like South Yorkshire where their success rate was 3.8 per cent.

An unsuccessful model?

The data also shows that A4e services were more successful in regions where the company was sub-contracted by another big provider.

For example, in North East England, where the Work Programme is run by Avanta and Ingeus Deloitte and A4e is a subcontractor working to their direction, the company achieved a success rate of 4.18 per cent in sustainable job outcomes – almost double the success rate in the prosperous Thames Valley.

Read more: Figuring out the Work Programme - a blog from Channel 4 News Social Affairs Editor Jackie Long 

The results suggest that A4e’s model for getting the unemployed back into work may not be as successful as the model used by other providers.

Channel 4 News’s investigation also found that many of A4e’s partners in the Work Programme – often specialists who are given the hardest cases – have an even poorer success rate.

For example Ixion Holdings, which specialises in getting the long term unemployed back into work, got just one person in a job that lasted 3 months or more between June 2011 and the end of March 2012 out of a total of 131 sent to them by A4e. That equates to a success rate of just 0.76%.

Under the “payment by results” system used in the Work Programme, Ixion would only receive an “attachment fee” of £400 per client referred and would receive no further payment until that client had been in sustained work for 13 or 26 weeks.

Low success rate

Last night Channel 4 News revealed that A4e had only achieved a success rate of 3.5% for getting people into work lasting three months or more.

The figures obtained by Channel 4 News were not disputed by either A4e or the Department of Work and Pensions. A4e said:

“We believe it is correct and proper to share performance data for the Work Programme, on the part of all providers and across all regions, when it is the right time to do so. The Official WP Statistics will be published in the Autumn following rigorous auditing and data matching by DWP. As a provider, under the terms of our contract, we do not have permission to disclose or comment on performance data before that point.

“The Work Programme is just one year into a five year, outcome based, programme. The statistical data will undergo robust validation in DWP, compiled and released in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. Any data released before then is therefore unreliable and risks misleading the public as to the performance of the Work Programme.”