A4e staff jailed for DWP back-to-work training fraud

Six employees at a back-to-work recruitment company have been jailed for a fraud that saw them falsely claim almost £300,000.

They worked for Action 4 Employment (A4e) which helped people gain training to get into work.

They made up files, forged signatures and falsely claimed they had helped people find jobs, enabling them to hit targets and gain government bonuses.

Four more employees received suspended sentences.

Following a 13-week trial at Reading Crown Court, four people were found guilty of taking part in the fraud in January. Six others previously admitted their part, and a further three were acquitted.

Prosecutor Sarah Wood said between them they created 167 false claims which cost the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which contracted A4e to carry out the work, £288,595.

Some falsified files using the names of family members, while others offered bribes in the form of vouchers to get people to fill out false forms, the court heard.

Read the rest of this BBC story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-32139244

Woman left disabled by child killer Beverley Allitt ordered to repay £23,500 in benefits

Social security chiefs issued the demand after ruling Kayley Asher wasn’t eligible for any financial help because she’d already received compensation for her injuries.

Kayley, 25, was targeted by evil nurse Allitt – dubbed the Angel of Death – while she was in hospital as a 13-month-old baby. Despite the severity of her injuries she was awarded just £11,500 in damages, to be held in a trust fund until she was 18. She was also later granted around £120-a-week in disability benefits to help her parents cope with their daughter’s condition.

The DWP has now cut off the Employment Support Allowance Kayley had been receiving. And it is demanding £23,500 of the allowance – paid because her disabilities prevent her from working – is handed back. Officials claim the fact Kayley has savings of more than £16,000, which is made up of the compensation she received plus interest, means she is not eligible for the allowance.

The demand has infuriated her mum Sharon who says her only way of paying it back is to plunder her daughter’s compensation fund.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Post, outraged Sharon, 55, revealed she is refusing to pay back the money. “They are not having a penny,” she said. “Even if it means I have to go to prison.”

She said there’s no way she should have to raid the money awarded to Kayley because of the injuries Allitt inflicted on her. “That money is to pay for Kayley’s care because she was attacked by Allitt,” she added. “I’m fuming they are threatening to take it away. Kayley would be left with nothing and will even have to take out a loan to pay the full amount.”


Sharon – who adopted Kayley with her sister Zara in 1997 – insists a judgment made it clear at the time the compensation would not affect her daughter’s disability benefits in the future. But crucial paperwork held by the authorities has now gone missing, she claims.

Read the whole of this Sunday Post article here: http://www.sundaypost.com/news-views/uk/woman-left-disabled-by-child-killer-beverley-allitt-ordered-to-repay-23-500-in-benefits-1.857188

From Tragedy To Farce, How Universal Credit’s Work Related Activity Is Beyond A Joke

the void

zac-videogames Someone buy Zac a pint.

The rules on what constitutes work related activity for those claiming Universal Credit would be laughable if they were not backed by sanctions that can plunge people into destitution for up to three years.

As part of Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with forcing unemployed, sick and disabled people into ever more irksome and pointless activity, unemployed claimants are now expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for a job.  The guidance for Jobcentre decision makers gives an example of a typical day:

“Dave is in receipt of UC. His expected number of hours of work are 35 a week. “On a typical day, Dave spends
1. two hours on-line looking through recruitment sites
2. one hour reading the “situations vacant” pages in the press (local papers,
national papers and trade journals)
3. one hour and a half completing a job application and covering letter

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Paid to fail? The appalling record of the Work Programme contractors who find jobs for fewer than one person in 10

But the businesses still rake in millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash every year

The appalling record of Wales’ work programme contractors can today be laid bare by figures that show they got fewer than one in 10 people a job.

Rehab Jobfit, which covers Wales and south west England, found work for just 3,460 job seekers out of 39,060 referred to them.

The nation’s other provider, Working Links, helped just 3,930 people out of 39,620 referrals.

As the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union slammed the findings the companies were stood accused of being paid for failure.

“The problem with the work programme is the way it is set up,” a PCS spokesman said. “A lot of untested companies like this are able to get these referrals from Job Centres to deal with people that need expert help, advice, and support to get back into work. They are not up to the job. This is emblematic of what is wrong with the work programme.”

Firms rake in millions of pounds in taxpayer cash.

According to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) documents payments range “from a maximum of around £3,800 for a young unemployed person to £13,700 for someone who has a limited capability for work and, as a result, has been receiving benefits for several years”.

That means Rehab Jobfit could have earned almost £48m while Working Links could have been paid almost £54m for those people they did get into work.

“But they are doing themselves out of money they could be getting on the contract by being such poor performers,” the PCS spokesman said. “One of the problems of paying people by results is that they go and cherry-pick the easiest people to place. That means the people the programme was designed to help are getting left behind because they are too difficult to deal with.”

He claimed the programme was “really poorly designed”. Our position is that it should be scrapped and brought back under DWP control where expert help exists,” he said. “The DWP needs to invest to give people in Job Centres time to spend with job seekers that they need.”

ead the rest of this story from Wales Online here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/rehab-jobfit-working-links-jobs-8938525

1.6 million children, living in 920,000 families, are now dealing with council tax debt.

New Children’s Society report illustrates growing Council Tax debt problem

This morning (26th March 2015) the Children’s Society published their new report The Wolf at the Door – How council tax debt collection is harming children’. The report is a much welcome and very timely contribution to the evidence that Council Tax debt is a growing problem.

The report finds that 1.6 million children, living in 920,000 families, are now dealing with council tax debt. This is a growing problem with the number of court summons issued for non-payment rising by a third to almost two million between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Unsurprisingly the abolition of Council Tax Benefit and the introduction of minimum payment Council Tax Support schemes has played a significant role in these rising arrears. A third of families surveyed for the report said the changes to council tax support were a key contributing factor to finding themselves in arrears.

But the report finds that not only are these changes a problem but the way that Council’s enforce debts is making it worse. Just under half of families in debt felt their local council was either not helpful at all or extremely unhelpful when they contacted them to discuss their debt. To make matters worse council’s were also extremely unhelpful when families tried to negotiate a repayment plan, with nearly half saying it was challenging to negotiate or they were unable to negotiate at all.

Read the rest of this report at the Zacchaeus 200 blog here: http://z2k.org/2015/03/new-childrens-society-report-illustrates-growing-council-tax-debt-problem/

JobCentre Call Police On Claimant Because He Begs For Advisors’ Help

Same Difference

With many thanks to Justice4Jobseekers.

Thanks to Julie O’Dwyer for sharing this with us. More evidence of the increasing level of inhumanity shown by so-called Jobcentre advisers:

“I was in the job centre several weeks ago. Whilst waiting to be seen I could hear a gentleman begging for somebody to properly explain why he had been sanction. The advisor refused to speak to him any further and so the gentleman said he would sit and wait until somebody could explain things to him. He was totally non aggressive and not at all confrontational. The job centre called the police and they forcibly removed him from the building. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life! The poor guy was desperate and the people who are there to supposedly support him just turned their backs and had him turfed out onto the street! That one incident said it all to…

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Boy battling leukaemia fed by foodbanks after Department for Work and Pensions axed his benefits

The family of a seven-year-old boy battling leukaemia have been forced to use foodbanks after their benefits were axed.

Tommi Miller’s parents received £700 a month to help look after him until he was given the all-clear last April. But when the cancer returned in a more virulent form, Ruth, 39 and Kevin, 42, stopped work to care for their son.

They hoped the Department for Work and Pensions would restart the payments. But officials said No.

With no income for six months, the family have relied on foodbanks to eat. They have struggled to pay gas bills, been threatened with eviction and could only celebrate Christmas after friends raised £1,200. One of Tommi’s consultants at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, also gave them £600 in supermarket vouchers so they could survive winter.

Mum-of-four Ruth said: “Everything we have is spent on the kids – me and Kevin are happy to go hungry. They should have a heart and realise our priorities are not rent and council tax. Every single thought is focused on our child. Kevin added: “What they are doing to us is inhuman – this is a young boy who is suffering.”


read the rest of this article here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/boy-battling-leukaemia-fed-foodbanks-5068514

Charities ‘very worried’ after leak suggests Tories plan to tax disabled benefits if re-elected

Charities yesterday condemned as “very worrying” any move by a re-elected Conservative government to target the disabled

after a leak suggested senior Tories were preparing to tax their benefits in a future cuts programme.

Campaigners accused ministers of fiscal short-sightedness after proposals drawn up by civil servants to deliver Chancellor George Osborne’s commitment  to cut £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-18 revealed plans to raise £1.5bn by clawing back a slice of key disability payments.

The leaked document, obtained by the BBC, detailed plans to impose taxes on the disability living allowance, personal independence payments and attendance allowance, paid to over-65s with personal care needs.

Charities said the disabled, including those suffering mental illness, had already shouldered a heavy burden from cuts brought in by the Coalition and further cuts would disproportionately target the most vulnerable.

read the rest of this article from the Independent here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/charities-very-worried-after-leak-suggests-tories-plan-to-tax-disabled-benefits-if-reelected-10142070.html

Government Statistics No Longer Reliable Say Charities As Homelessness Epidemic Gets Even Worse

the void

cause-of-homelessness How private sector evictions are driving homelessness. AST stands for Assured Shorthold Tenancy. Graph from Crisis.

Figures showing that statutory homelessness has soared in England by 27% since this government weren’t elected do not even scratch the surface of the desperate homelessness epidemic.

53,250 families were accepted as homeless in 2014, up from 41,780 five years earlier and the latest official homlessness statistics uncover some starks facts.  There are now twice the number of families living in B&Bs than in 2010 and the number who have been there over six weeks has leapt by an appalling 500%.  This is a practice which had almost died out, but as demand for temporary housing has risen over the the last five years there are no longer enough hostels, refuges and other forms of emergency accommodation for the growing numbers of homeless families.

These statistics come after last month’s rough sleeping estimate

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