Vast fraud alleged at welfare-to-work firm
A welfare-to-work company owned by David Cameron's former families tsar has been accused of being involved in a vast fraud scandal in which there was "systemic" misuse of public money.
In written evidence submitted to Parliament by a former chief auditor at A4e he claims that an "unethical culture" led to fraud by employees at the company, which holds major government contracts.
But the whistleblower said that when concerns were raised about wrongdoing little was done to address the widespread abuse of taxpayers' money. The evidence, detailed by The Daily Telegraph, was submitted by Eddie Hutchinson, the former head of audit at A4e, to a meeting of the Commons Public Accounts Committee on Tuesday.
However, the meeting was held in private after objections from Conservative members of the committee who said they had been given no advance warning of the whistleblower's evidence.
A4e last night strongly denied any wrongdoing. It said: "None of these allegations stand up. None of the issues raised here prove there is systemic fraud at A4e and all of them relate to historic contracts."
In his statement to the committee, Mr Hutchinson claimed that the leaders of the company oversaw a "disgraceful misuse of government and taxpayer funding", characterised by unethical behaviour, mismanagement and inadequate risk management.
He said the company had a culture that discouraged employees from revealing improper practices. "I encountered unethical behaviour or wrongdoing that fell way below standards that should be expected of organisations funded by significant sums from the public purse," he wrote.
Mr Hutchinson, who worked at A4e from October 2010 until May last year, alleged:
* A bonus scheme for employers "drove inappropriate behaviour" by staff willing to commit fraud.
* Staff acted in the belief that if their irregularity was discovered, they could resign in the knowledge no further action would be taken.
* Two years on from a 2009 audit report warning that fraud was not confined to one part of the country, fraud was still "systemic".
Mr Hutchinson made the allegations a week after the Government said it had seen no evidence of fraud in contracts held by A4e.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: "These allegations all relate to programmes run by the previous Government. We have audited current contracts with A4e and found no evidence of fraud.
"We have changed the way we run new welfare-to-work programmes to safeguard taxpayers' money. We only pay by results and under the Work Programme, claims are verified against benefit and employment records to make sure fraudulent claims are not processed.
"No one should mistake unproven allegations about past welfare-to-work schemes with strong controls we have in place on current programmes."
- 1 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 2 Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
- 3 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 4 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
- 5 Michael B Jordan and Kate Mara handle excruciatingly awkward and offensive interview questions like pros
Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
German Isis recruit Ebrahim B to reveal full horrors of his 'execution centre' ordeal
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...
Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...