Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (23rd March 2012) said “a full inquiry as to whether criminal behaviour by training and employment placement group A4e was needed more than ever” after he had voiced earlier concerns after A4e was forced to withdraw from part of a £900,000 project with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council after an A4e employee forged signatures on official forms.
He said this after a BBC investigation revealed what he called ‘a systemic pattern of duplicity at A4e across the country’. BBC Newsnight had obtained the results of a confidential 2009 internal audit of work by A4e’s top recruiters. The auditors found staff claiming for putting people into jobs which did not exist, jobs which did not qualify for payment and fabricating paperwork.
Tom said “This programme highlighted what to me seemed to be clear evidence of a systemic culture of fraud within A4e and a lack of adequate controls by the Department for Work and Pensions and other public bodies partnering A4E Both are completely unacceptable.
At the time A4E said that there was no criminal activity involved, and that the person responsible had resigned. This was also the position taken by Redcar and Cleveland Council. Now, it looks as if this kind of behaviour was par for the course at A4e, and given this, local inquiries have got to be re-opened. At the very least, Council officers should refer this matter to the Council’s own elected member Audit Committee so the matters can be looked at in an open and transparent fashion.”