An A4e experience: ‘bullying, changing staff, out of date resources’ [Link]

Online Protest Against Workfare have posted the experiences of one job hunter who has experienced A4e on 3 occasions. It includes descriptions of bullying, more than one work experience that happened to be with the company itself.

The post is littered with specific details, but key ones included being

“expected to do job searches with 60 or more people fighting to access a handful of old computers too slow to be of any real use; out of date newspapers to search for jobs and one telephone to call for application forms.

“[…] Newspapers frequently arrived late; C.V’s couldn’t be stored on computers (so called security and data protection issues). There was never any stationery (I eventually took my own supply of envelopes).”

It also talks about a climate where someone who raised questions with their supervisor was “‘ripped’ into […] in front of everyone for having spoken about their concerns with Job Centre Plus.”

Worth reading in full.

Sadly the lack of specifics makes it difficult to follow up with particular JobCentres, etc. which is why anonymity is always problematic. Sometimes it’s better not to publish at all – at least initially – but to use the details about places, people and incidents to get a second source and confirmation.

40 thoughts on “An A4e experience: ‘bullying, changing staff, out of date resources’ [Link]”

  1. But when there is a fear of sanctions, or being punished, When even if you report it to the job centre, they say they cant do anything..

    Would you want to complain about a company who could find any excuse to sanction you. If it got back to them it was you. That is the problem People are scared to speak out because you know they will come for them.

    1. Yes, I understand that, sadly. But it is possible, if you have information on where this happened, to ask questions about what should be happening in these circumstances without having to mention specific instances. You don’t need to give the JobCentre etc. any details that would identify anyone.

      Another thing you could do is submit an FOI for logs of complaints raised, and then either compare that with complaints you know have been raised, or follow the paper trail to see how/if those were dealt with.

      The problem is that when someone hears of a bad experience, they can write it off as a ‘bad apple’, or someone exaggerating. But if you can find systemic problems, a lack of accountability, etc. then that’s harder to write off.

    2. I have had bad experience with A4e…i was to be employed by a company that had teamed up with A4e , I had an interview, was given a post , received paperwork of employment and a another document that was me to sign agreeing me to allow £52 to be taken from the first mths wage to pay for a DBS search, on arrival I said that I wanted to pay upfront in cash for the police check. The receptionist said that wasn’t the way they did things, I inquired if they pad petty cash box , they said yes but still refused to allow me to pay upfront…i the next day went to my adviser and shared my concerns, he said that A4e had made an agreement up with aspirations company , that after every client that worked for a mth that A4e would reimburse them after they had paid via the first wage …..i was suspicious and cancelled the offer of employment with aspirations and found out the following day that DBS checks are free if employed for more than 16 hours a week…..A4e have tried to get me sanctioned I believe to keep me quiet

  2. Well as some have said a4e for one the government for another, that that was in the last scheme and this scheme is ALL NEW and IMPROVED, when in reality it isnt. When dozens of people all complain to different advisers, they may still say its a bad apple.. because there is no central agency in charge. I personally had a problem with a4e and the job centre, Each one of them said i should get in touch with the other.. The responsibility for complaints as told to me by a4e was to go to the job centre.. The job centre told me to get in touch with a4e. So who has responsibility..

    A lot of people from every area, has the same experiences. At least people are talking now. I am afraid of speaking out myself. Even on here i am worried that someone will see me and i will be punished. Fear drives us even more and while we wish we could speak out we are too scared (luckily i live at home with my mum, if i has council housing benefits, you get to the stage of people possibly becoming homeless) .

    1. It’s incredible to see how many people are speaking out now. It would be good to see the same around other companies – and there are quite a few.

  3. My personal experince is that a4e is a fraud and i have unfournately used this service and got nothing from it.

    Whatever money going to it from taxpayers, its not going on the general staff, resources, equipment, building maintance etc. The money seems to be disappearing elsewhere. How is it that a service that gets paid hundreds of millions a year in government contracts isnt closely monitered?

    The service was useless, the resources were old newspapers back dated by several weeks and months where the jobs were no longer available. There was one landline phone to make telephone enquirers, there were 6 computers which were slow and outdated and not fit for purpose as they kept crashing. There were 40 – 50 people crammed into a small space, the staff werent even there they just went and left us in a room, they would be gone for hours. We were offered no support, advice or aid. How was a4e suppose to help me get a job? As far as I could see this company was a scam used to fiddle taxpayers money.

    I feel anger that this company can get away with such sysmatic abuse that is has got away with. I felt let down both by the company and by myself because it felt like I wasnt trying hard enough eventhou I was doing everything possible. This company as far as I could see uses those who are vunerable and at a point in there life where they have hit the bottom. After my experince I wanted to kill myself because I felt there was nothing to live for. Thankful I didnt go through with it.

    Emma Harrison should hang her head in shame, she is nothing more than a benefit thief in a mansion. She abused the vunerable to get where she is today and I for one will look forward to the day that the police investagations find evidence of the sysmatic abuse of this organisation.

  4. a4e are nothing but bullies i was healthy until i went there now i suffer from depression and have developed serious gum disease through stress. They gave me no help, tried to force me into unsuitable jobs imconsthreatened to stop my money. underta when i was on the sick forced me to attend when ill.

    1. my last post messed up apologies. finally they constantly lied about what they can do to you ie sanctions. iam now self employed and they continue to hassle me on my mobile and thdy threatened that if i dont answer i will not be able to claim jobseekers in the future as they will block it. they are a disgrace and to be avoided at all cost

    2. Hi Tony,
      I’m glad you posted a comment here, I’m the same. Since I left school in 1985 up until 2009 I had been in continuous employment until I became redundant in ’09.
      I’ve been through 2 years of A4e and normally I’m a pretty strong person, but a4e staff intimidated and bullied me until I had my first breakdown last September. I took it through the complaints procedure at Head Office and the Manager of the Office I was attending . Although I had an in depth discussion myself and the Manager reached some solution, although the 3 staff members whom ganged up on me weren’t sacked .
      It led me to being on anti depressants and I lost my confidence completely , I finished my 2 years with them in July after having a new member of staff who was brilliant, unfortunately all the other staff were arseholes.
      Anyway , after leaving my confidence has been building up again and I thought everything was going okay, then the other week I discovered that I was being sent back to a4e in a different office to do Mandatory Work Activity (I’m not work shy but I fear a4e bullies and at the age of 44 thats pretty stupid, but I’m ill) after making a phone call to a4e regarding my imaginary induction phone call the staff member was rude and hadn’t done an assessment as stated in their guidelines, he said he had stuck me in a place of work and to report to the factory , taking into account that I am on a high dosage of anti depressants, production work , operating machinery and driving are effected as my tablets make me sleepy. Anyway , I phone the Jobcentre and said they couldn’t do much and I had a breakdown, the jobcentre advised me to complain to a4e and to claim esa.
      I’m now on stronger anti depressants, and my confidence has gone .I have also been signed off sick by my Doctor.
      One thing that I do suggest is contacting Rehab Jobfit as these are the guys that supply people to a4e and the such,not dure if ACAS are any good but they carry out checks on employment law

  5. Watch this space, I’ve been bullied, check a4e equality and diversity policy governed by the equality act 2010 all employees must abide check employee responsibilities and complain, they are also breaking human rights act, ,harassment and employment law,seekiing legal advice don’t put up with it make a stand for freedom and liberty

  6. For the past 4 years I have tried at this time every year to get my Student Loan Deferment form filled in. This year after thgey refused to fill it in I went to the CAB. They got them to fill it in but it was wrong. So I complained to the manager. Who told me she had contacted the Student Loans Office andf they had said the formas erere not beinfg sent out. And there were alternative ways of trying to get a deferlment. I have contacted the SLO. They have not heard from my job centre and the form has to be filled out. I am a carere and I di not have the time notr the eneg=rgy to go back to the CAB. How can I complain and to whom

  7. I have made feel like i was the lowest of the low by some of the staff at my a4e in ebbw vale. take two weeks ago i had two appointments one with jobcentre and one with a business adviser but the woman who was on the front desk made me so small in front of some of the people who had come for a course. i told her that i was sorry that i couldn’t attend the course that because of these appointments that when she was mad with me .

  8. I am on this course in Cumbria, Barrow -in- Furness and I know what the staff are like. It’s not in one area. The staff of Barrow A4E are disgusting they make you feel worthless and useless. They always talk down to you and always say you aint doing enough when you really are trying hard. I have been to the jobcentre and they said to complete directly to them so i did and the they refused to file the complaint. I am thinking of going to the citizens bureau for help this is ridicules did not no this was happening everywhere and how bad they were.

      1. Hayley: If A4e refused to accept your complaint you can refer it to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE)

        For others reading this who also want to complain about their provider. The normal procedure is you should first complain to your provider. When they fob you off , or in the case of Hailey, refuse to accept your complaint, you can then refer it to ICE. That doesn’t mean you have to use ICE, you can of course refer your complain to CAB etc

        You should have been given a sheet from your jobcentre when you were first referred to the work programme explaining the complaints procedure.

        Some of you may be interested to know that there is no legal requirement to sign the work programme Action Plan and consent form to share information or any other documents:

        So if your provider has threatened you with a sanction for not signing some document that is fraud – by abuse of position – Fraud Act 2006

        Hope the above is of some help to all of you

    1. Hi i got a similar problem and is a cup of day i am thinking the same.. citizen advice bureau maybe could be useful. If you been there let me know what i happened

  9. I am on a a4e course they rang me why I was out shopping said I had an hour to travel 4 miles to there office got to there office and it was aquick sit down interview with three employers one was a leafletting company every one of us who was forced to have interview was told to leave our details any way the guy rang said u got the job I said great what is the pay he said its 30 hours a week and 100 pound a week. I said I want the nmw or no.rang a4e they said I had to take it or lose my jsa I said no as did the jobcentre say I do not have to take a self emoloyed job that pays below the nmw I hsve complained to a4e office and there main office cos u have ur pride that can’t take that even if I end up living in a tent I refuse to let these money grabbing scum take my pride so complain other wise they will get a way with it

  10. i am in a big trouble coz A4E, they just tricked me, was just wondering if ask an advice in citizen advice bureau may be useful. If someone has been in a similar situation just reply pls

  11. Well lets bring it bang up to date I agree with everything that has been said I am unfortunatly signed up with these idiots and do not know where to turn. I have been lied to and have become ill over what is going on. The threat of sanctions hangs over everyones heads so no-one will speak out against this criminal organisation. it say’s on the front of their business cards improving peoples lives, maybe the top people in the companies but none of the service users. I got so fed up I signed up for a four week course to get a forklift license, when I asked about travel expenses I was told to speak to my advisor. easier said than done the office I am at has only one phone line and the security gaurd answering it. when I eventually got through I was told he is busy and he would phone me back. he didn’t ask for my name or number so I can only assume they have phycic powers. I wrote to them asking for a bacs payment to be made I included all the relevent information recipts bank details. Its not a lot of money in fact its ten pounds I have sent several emails non of which have been answered spoken to my advisor and told it has deffinatly been paid in. all lies. last friday I left college early and went to my bank armed with bank statments I went to a4e and demanded they show me proof that the payment had been made. He produced an email from head office with the words its been done. when I then demanded to see a manager and showed them my bank statements I was fobbed off with yet more excuses. tomorrow will be one month since I submited my travel expenses claim still no luck. They are by far the worst organisation I have come across in my 49 years causing misery and heart ache to many thousands of victims who are forced to attend. I hope that when all this becomes public knowledge the same misery will befall those responsible for the mess they have caused

  12. Have just finished the 2 year work programme with another provider, not A4E.

    In the 2 years there has been no support to get into work, not even help with drafting letters and updating my CV. After sending out over 1000 spec letters i was offered a minimum wage temporary job, promised to last for at least a year that lasted 3 weeks. I was put on ESA due to having epilepsy which severely restricts the type of work i can apply for. Although i have controlled my condition, the treatment i have received over the last 2 years has led me into a downward spiral of depression. Bullying is too finer word to use on the treatment that i we were subjected to. Sanctions for appearing on time and the dippy receptionist not marking us off on their register, sanctions for not posting application forms, again found under paperwork on desks in the office. Sanctions for signing up for college to try and escape the unemployment list (JCP and the provider stopped this within 3 weeks of me starting)

    I have asked about training while on the programme – “No funding available”, help with college fees – “Not allowed to go to college due to job seekers rules that state you need to available for work”.

    What work? I have been on a training programme whereby i am in exactly the same position as when i started!

    I have now been referred back to the job centre to be bullied by them no doubt. I find myself further away from work after 2 years than i was when i started and i now have to visit a counsellor every other week due to suicidal tendencies. I shall do my bit to claim ESA until college starts and then sign off as soon as Job Centre decide that its time to stick a spanner in the works again.

  13. they sanctioned me for not attending any appointments, they claim that they sent me many letters etc when i did not get any letters from them, its not fair at all. i told my jobcenter and made so much appeal but nothing can be done so i will definitely visit my local citizens advice centre with all the evidence i have for not attending because i have court order for 9 months probation to meet my probation officer and treatment officer every week. i showed the jobcenter all this letters they say its not a good reason wtf….? any citizens advice centre it shall definitely sue them. and i will post again for outcome on citizens advice centre so many of you can do this and fuck this zionist a4e scum

  14. Don’t trust a4e.I’ve always found work myself,and not once found one with a4e.Also they will contact the place where you worked and basically beg them for work for there other clients behind your back.That is not a smart thing to do and I’m looking more into this as my previous managers are pissed off each time they call.And the agenceys I work with.The advisors keep changing.They have old computers and newspapers.sometimes we can’t log in to PC.Remember these guys are meant to find us jobs.There just a bunch of liners.And remember to check any forms before you sign them.Hackney a4e needs a make 9ver.Its asmelly old building with unqualified staff.I have seen it get really bad there.Changes need to be done

  15. Oh I’ve been with them over a year.And not been on one interview.And am a grafter they just can’t get it right.When are you gonna get me into work a4e next Christmas.Lol

  16. Another thing guys if u have a PC and printer at home and internet access. Try doing everything CVs jobs searches I really don’t see the point of going to a4e to sit with an advisor who chats shit and don’t get you into work

  17. Mate you wanna see A4E in Hackney rd.theres a couple fat advisors that think they know it all.They speak down to you.They all need to learn customer sevice.Treat people with manners

  18. Some of the posts here are old but no less worrying. I am on the WP myself attending a4e. Up until now I didn’t think they were that bad. However the bullying has begun. I am currently at college studying counselling. Last week I was forced onto a course which I really did not want to do I found it useless and the “trainer” was an absolute joke. He was roughly around 22 years old and very patronising and arrogant. On the Monday and Thursday I said I couldn’t attend the course as I had college to go to. My advisor tried to help me but was shot down by the manager who told her that the course I am doing at college is “irrelevant” to my job hunting. What?! So counselling is irrelevant is it? Now they’re trying too bully me into a job in a call centre for rubbish pay. I’ve done it before and got sacked due to not being effective on the phone. Do they care? Not at all. I have had it with this lot. They’re nothing but bullies and at their age, most of them should know better!

  19. My A4E advisor is a total tit!!!!!

    I was on the rubbish Work Programme about 2 years ago and my advisor was always on my case. I got myself a job WITH NO HELP from the work programme. I did`nt inform them that I had started work as I had better things to do with my time and I was`nt claiming JSA anymore so I thought fkuck them!….. Was happy I was working and not getting hounded anymore (as I also changed my number) but what happend next…….. My advisor only turned up at my house, 7 o`clock at night……I could not believe it… Is this allowed? He said he could not get in touch with me so came to my home to see what my working circumstances were! Excuse me you obviously have my address could you not of sent a letter?

    Ended up being made redundant a couple of months ago , signing on and back on the work programme with that tit again!! Have attended a few appointments but missed my last one with good reason and I just can`t face seeing his smug face anymore it`s really stressing me out! I will be sanctioned now as he said said I MUST attend this appointment!!! Who does he think he is? I thought fcuck you… you don`t tell me what to do so stick my Jobseekers up ya arse. Never heard from him for nearly 2 weeks and its been great. If he has stopped my money I am gonna put a very strongly worded compaint in about him especially turning up at my home!!

  20. first it was Remploy that made money out of me ,2 visits to the office,4 phone calls to me which was asking how things was,wish i could set up something like this and it to be legal, well now at A4e ,on signing all the papers given to me i asked to take them home so i could read them,i was told no as its company policy and they belong to them, i told her i agreed but they was my personnal details, no i have not signed them and expect something will be done regarding this. I have a disability and my head gets cloudy ,the lady told me i must be good with money running a home which i told her my childrem make sure bills are paid and do most of my shopping ,she then growled and told me her mum who was 84 with alzeihmers manages her money,the point being !. i have now told them i find it disrespectful being called by my first name and now they choose to ignore me instead of using my surname, these are my rights, i am doing what i have to ,attending andcivil lets see if im still there in 2016 , and them being the only ones making a living off me

  21. Oh my god yes I know these bullies only to well. Been unsuccessfully looking for work. Ended up on the WP, a4e. Like Laura says In the above comment they were good with me at first. Been with them now nearing 2 years and my new advisor who I’m really fearful of, and don’t get on with, has been trying to find ways to stop my money ever since she took over. The most recent “failure” as she calls it, is me refusing to go to an interview that’s bloody miles away from my home! Well, I explained to the company clearly why I couldn’t attend plus I’m a single parent who relys on public transport, I explained all this to them. I specifically told Jcp that I am willing to work, but only willing to travel locally they know all this yet my heartless advisor still tried to send me well away from my area. Today I was humiliated by her made to feel extremely small, infront of others, too. I’m actually physically ill now. The worry is making me ill. I was fine before I started going there. Now I’m an emotional wreck which is so unlike me. I really hope these so called advisors can sleep at night knowing what they’re doing to people. Shame on you you know who you are!

  22. I’ve had a horrible experience with my advisor at bootstrap office in Blackburn , he has gone out of his way to cause me problems when I have rearranged an appointment with him , he reported to JC that I failed to attend then denied it to me when I. Confronted him and yet just got another 4 week sanction because of his lies and nobody seems to care about people who are out of work like we are just insignificant because we are unemployed we have no rights and no voice

  23. pls contact me for further info, the irony is i after months of begging i was put on a business plan course (finally) just about everyone there was told they should have been put on it sooner, i spent weeks on the course and many hours filling out my business plan to a very high standard, only to be told at the job centre this course was not valid (despite being funded by the government), and would have to accept any job, such as in a bar or cleaning toilets, tell me, how exactly are these projects helping save tax payers money? if the people on the business course were allowed to enrol a year ago, as they should have been, they would no doubt have thriving businesses now, something the government are trying to promote, so how is suggesting ‘people should work in toilets and bars’, helping the entrepreneurial spirit of the uk recover the economy, that has been on a constant slide since the current Government took over?

  24. I have been with A4E at Leicester, they are completely useless. Despite being educated to degree level with GCSE’s in maths, english and I.T, they have sent me on three separate courses on how to write a CV, and literacy and numeracy courses. Both the advisors I have had are completely crap. and will not respond to complaints. When I told my advisor that I wanted to go back into full time education, he wasn’t in the least bit interested, as he knew he wouldn’t get his bonus. My advice based on my own experience, is its not worth complaining to the DWP or A4E, but to write or meet with your local MP, this is the only way we will get rid of A4E. Two of the local MPs in Leicester are really supportive and want to see A4E go.

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