A4e makes 'irregular' claims refund

Job seekerWelfare-to-work company A4e paid back thousands of pounds to the Government after uncovering a number of "irregular" claims, it has emerged.

An internal audit of its best performing recruiters found examples of claims being made for securing jobs for people despite the positions not existing, as well as other "potential" risks.
According to the BBC, the leaked report found that 4% of the claims examined were "potentially fraudulent" or included "irregular activity" and another 12% were classified as containing "reputational" or other risks. The draft document, from 2009, showed auditors were only certain that A4e was entitled to the money the company claimed in 70% of the cases.

Its audit team examined the work of the company's top 20 recruiters, looking at one fifth of their work, totalling 224 clients.

An A4e spokeswoman said: "This draft document relates to an internal audit in early 2009. As part of a fundamental review into our internal systems and controls, the audit looked into a number of cases of potential risks.

"As a result we made significant enhancements to all our systems, including the appointment of external auditors. To get this into its proper context, while this investigation uncovered a number of areas where procedures may have been lacking, the final audit and further investigation determined that five claims were irregular and related to one former employee.

"This was reported to the DWP Risk Assurance Division, which confirmed that the action taken by A4e fully met their own audit requirements and that they considered the matter satisfactorily resolved. A4e repaid the value of these three claims in full, which totalled less than £5,000."

Earlier this month, the Government launched an investigation into an allegation of attempted fraud against A4e.

The Department for Work and Pensions said it had been made aware of an allegation of attempted fraud in relation to a Mandatory Work Activity contract with the firm, which is already facing a police investigation in relation to previous allegations.

Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which investigates spending by government departments, has written to the DWP calling for the immediate suspension of all contracts with A4e. She said the report revealed a "shocking catalogue of events" and suggested the company appeared to be "greedy".
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