Monday, 28 January 2013

The BBC Trips Over A Blackbox, Carries On

Sometimes the mainstream media inadvertently do something significant, but because they did so inadvertently and without a proper grasp of the subject they don't follow through. Back in 2011 I covered the matter of Welfare to Work shenanigans, but since then I have kept the hell away from writing about the Welfare to Work industry unless it is something that has already been covered in the press as I simply don't have the means to defend myself nor any contributors below the line from speculative libel action and this industry has shown itself to play downright dirty in this respect.

So the last 'scoop' I had was on A4e telling the then Employment Minister Chris Grayling that the Citizens Advice Bureau was going to sub-contract for them on the Work Programme. Without checking with CAB first, Grayling then cited their supposed involvement as a 'big boost to the Big Society'(on April 1st, so I couldn't be certain it was not a prank until later) not once but twice in DWP press releases- as part of the ever on-going misuse of departmental resources for partisan political purposes. I told of what had actually happened, how I told my boss at my CAB placement about the first press release and what she told me unequivocally that no Bureaux were involved with the Work Programme and A4e had jumped the gun quite intentionally. I quote: "If there was little chance of working with A4e before, there is not a dog-shit's chance in Hell of us working with them now".

From there I began warning people against criticising charities for supposed involvement in the Work Programme unless those charities themselves confirmed they actually were. We could not take the word of the Coalition or the prime contractors- there was no reason to trust them on anything. But why then were charities not speaking out, protesting against widely publicised government announcements as being part of the Work Programme? The same reason I've stayed away from covering the Welfare to Work industry- they can't afford the consequences they are frequently but quietly threatened with. Charities have a duty to not be primarily political, but whilst certain Right-wing think-tanks and lobbying organisations get away completely free, charities that exist for the public good are under constant pressure. The truth is successfully surpressed along with any opportunity to speak it. There's more than one 'blackbox' being used by the Coalition- charities virtually have a wall made out of them to keep them in line.

Then an anonymous poll comes along to save the day, courtesy of the BBC- the mainstream media outlet who have now done something useful by mistake and if they realise it will quickly try to unrealise it. They treat the human interest part of this story as significant, but it's the details that matter and the poll throws out the bombshell:
40% of those which responded said they were not actually part of the Work Programme, therefore should not be on the DWP's list
Let's be honest about the 'blackbox' design of the WP contracts; it's simply a means by which Ministers can avoid any responsibility for what happens on the Work Programme, but they couldn't even get that right. The sub-contractor list they have is not blackboxed, they could have checked it any time by simply asking the organisations listed on it if they had an agreement with any prime contractors. They chose not to and the blackbox system does not give them the excuses they sought. This was worse than the controversial 'bid candy' practice revealed loudly in the press last year; those sub contractors knew they were in the Work Programme and were expecting referrals that never came.

Many 'sub contractors' did not agree to anything
 The 40% of respondents to the BBC survey weren't, CAB only found out it was listed as a sub contractor after the DWP press release, so it's safe to bet that a good number of the rest have only found out about their 'participation' from the BBC survey. Those are just the respondents too: 348 organisations listed as sub contractors were sent the survey but just 184 answered. How many of the non-respondents did not reply because they believed their responses were irrelevant because they're not actually sub contractors?

Why is this important? Because it reveals something about the nature of the prime contractors on the Work Programme- a substantial number of them were prepared to lie to secure contracts and these weren't small lies but legally compromising ones, they get away with them because of politics. 

1 comment:


    As well as improving financial incentives-lie
    "Universal Credit will dramatically change the lives of millions of people in this country for the better by helping them to become financially and digitally able." Condescending ,a bit worried that not receiving vast cost saving entitlements is supposedly able-beyond satire they would not survive unable or able a week of our lives.