6 May, 2012 19:40
Welfare-to-work providers face fraud checks after investigations into wrongdoing
One in five investigations into alleged fraud at welfare-to-work providers over the past six years had “evidence of false representation” – such as forging client signatures to claim fees – with 10 cases referred to the police, the Government has revealed for the first time.
The figures help to uncover the full extent of misconduct in the industry and suggest wrongdoing could go beyond crisis-hit A4e, which is in the middle of a police investigation into alleged fraud.
A further 17pc of 126 cases investigated by authorities since 2006 had “evidence of procedural non-compliance”, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) disclosed in an answer to a written parliamentary question.
In total, 24 cases were found to have involved false representation and 22 procedural non-compliance, meaning almost 40pc of the 126 cases investigated had evidence of wrongdoing.
The disclosure is likely to strengthen calls for the Government to name the other providers that have been investigated over the past six years to reveal how widespread employee malpractice is.
A4e is being investigated after auditors found several possible examples of false claims that job seekers had been placed in work. The DWP said investigations elsewhere involved similar alleged false representations to claim fees, such as forged client signatures or falsifying details of the service provided.
In March, David Cameron told MPs eight investigations since 2006 were A4e-related, of which five resulted in a case to answer, two were referred to the police and one led to a prosecution.
Chris Grayling, the employment minister, said: “Premature disclosure of cases where there is evidence of prima facie fraud may potentially prejudice or damage future DWP or police investigations.”
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