Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Surprise, Surprise!

Maatwerk, one of the job brokers supposed to be 'helping' disabled people into work as part of James Purnell's Arbeit Macht Frei policy is being investigated by the police for fraud after a DWP inquiry.

No surprises here then.

8 comments:

Textual Healer said...

Was this the same company that tried to give you 50 quid to send in a blatantly misleading letter?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Textual Healer: Hello :) It was Mary over at This is My Blog (link in the sidebar) who was offered the £50, and from memory that was Remploy not Maatwerk. TBH this kind of problem is rife throughout all job brokers and always has been well known to those using the 'service'...it just doesn't seem to be picked up by the media or politicians for some reason.

Mary said...

It was indeed me and Remploy - but the money was via the same national "New Deal" project.

It's supposed to be a good little carrot. Under the terms of New Deal For Disabled People, you get a tax free bonus of £100 on starting work* and a further £50 if you sustain it for, I can't remember off the top of my head, it's either 3 or 6 months.

(* work of 16 hours a week or more, and only if you haven't claimed the back-to-work bonus in the last year or so.)

The trouble is that the money can only be released via a NDDP advisor. Sort yourself out, and you get zip unless you're prepared to accredit your hard work and success in solo jobsearching to some **** you've never met in an office somewhere.

Understandably, many people coming off benefits just hear the "sign this and I can get you £150" which sounds like a bloody good idea when you're on a low income, and have no savings due to previous benefits dependency, and you're entitled to Tax Credits but they haven't got back to you yet, and you've just had to pay out for suitable work clothes/shoes/etc, and, and, and...

Wat Tyler said...

So you're suggesting... no I can't believe this... you're saying these jobs brokers may have been defrauding the simple folk at DWP!

Blimey!

In principle, I'm very much in favour of using private sector expertise to help people find and sustain real employment.

But I have very little confidence in DWP's abaility to manage the contracts and monitor the results. And your post vividly underlines the issue.

A real problem.

Anonymous said...

Think of it this way... if you were any good at writing contracts, would you be working for the civil service?

-faceless-

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Wat: Exactly. And I'm going to go further than that and suggest this problem is rife throughout the job broking industry and far from confined to a 'few rogues' in Maatwerk. Mary's experiences with Remploy which we blogged about and she recaps above, plus previous of mine with a 3rd different job broker tell me this is standard practice to milk the govt cash cow.
As do the sheer number of job broking companies (or whatever they are registered as)
I personally don't care who provides such services, what is important is that they are provided well, that they actually work/have purpose and that they provide value for money. As we've already seen none of those criteria are really being met here. I'm not sure whether that is because of flaws in the conceptual idea of job brokers or as Faceless mentions problems with contracts. I suspect a mix of both.

The fundamental flaws in the job brokers idea are as we've looked at before, that it's all about creaming off the easy to place candidates from the top and then going through the motions with the rest. You might say that's fair enough, but it isn't going to do anything about the numbers the govt wants off benefit. As they are flawed in the extreme anyway it's probably just an expensive PR exercise which the govt hope will detract from the real issue. Those who are fit, well and capable of work but who simply prefer to be supported by the state.

The real con part of all this is that job brokers provide the service which used to be done by the DWP's own staff in jobcentres. Unfortunately in my experience all that expertise and good will which was to be found in the DWP 5+ years ago by the poorly paid job centre staff and advisors has disappeared in reshuffles and contracted out services. End result, job brokers scamming money this way and no expertise left to assist those desperate to enter the workplace.

The real crime in all this is all the disabled people who want to work but are facing nothing but fear over losing their means to support themselves. Nowhere in the job brokers scheme are sensible solutions to this problem, no links with employers to encourage the use of (often highly qualified) disabled people, no advice to business on the money available to them for adaptations, and the real shocker to me in this day and age is that there is no system set up to encourage employers to allow disabled people to work remotely. Whilst basic equipment is still so limited and physical access is such a problem in many areas working from home is the obvious and ideal solution for many of those who want to work and is something job brokers are not set up to deal with.

All this waste when those services were originally provided at a higher standard in all job centres.

Faceless: Good point, well made. Remind me...what is someone with your insight doing there?!

Tim H said...

I got referred to the Islington branch of these fraudsters. They refused to talk to me because they were confused about the benefit I was on (Income Support with disability premium) and if I was eligible i.e. would they get paid. After 45 minutes of being kept in their reception area while they tried to contact the DWP office to clarify the issue, I gave up and left.

I’ve also been referred to the equally incompetent Shaw Trust. The representative looked over my CV and said, “I don’t understand a word of this”. This was hardly surprising as I was an expert developer of financial IT systems. On the last page of my CV I had a section on soft skills such as international business travel, setting up offices overseas, etc. He ripped the page off and tore it up in front of me saying, “This is useless”. He continued, “I can see you have good IT skills. So I suggest you apply for data entry jobs”. I cannot think of two greater totally incompatible mind sets! “Alternatively, you could apply for a job as a postman they use loads of [post]codes”, was his next suggestion.

Most recently, I tried to get help from the Hoxton Jobcentre plus. I had a job offer, but needed help to start it. After a week I returned to see why I had not heard from them and after explaining that I had already asked to see someone the pervious week and being called a liar they found that the form I had filled in was still at the reception desk and not been processed. I tried to explain that the situation was now urgent, but they still refused to let me talk to anyone. As a result I lot what was probably my last chance of ever getting a job.

I have given up all hope of ever returning to work.

Elby the Beserk said...

Been rife for years;my-ex worked in Job Centres for years, and various flavours of what is now the DWP. In Bristol, many of the outfits they sighed up to "train" people for work did nothing of the sort; indeed, some of them did nothing at all, just got people to sign the papers, and - voila - the money came in from us all.

I would add also that she was in the DWP processing overpayments when the Tax Credits, crowning glory of The Dear Leader, came into being.

6 months before this time, all the major offices were given previews of how it would work (whilst HMRC "adminster" tax credits, benefits people nee dto know what any one is getting on this score.

After the presentation, the unanimous verdict was - this WILL NEVER WORK. Not least because the dominant gene at play in HMRC is TAKING money off us, not giving it back.

This was apprently unanimous across the country. So Brown went ahead with it. And, as we now know well, it doesn't work, and it will never work.