Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Merlin Standard & A4e Fraud

Been stumbling across mentions of the odious-sounding Merlin Standard over the last few weeks. The Merlin Standard is described as a

“joint exercise between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its providers operating in the Welfare to Work (W2W) sector, to ensure adherence to the Code of Conduct within DWP’s Commissioning Strategy.”


More interesting is that all Work Programme Prime Providers, not only have to pay for the £10,000 assessment to be completed end of June, but also if they fail to gain accreditation can eventually be kicked off the Work Programme. Alas, the Department for Workfare Profiteers gives ample time & opportunity for Prime Providers to meet the Merlin Standard, with a second and third assessment available at another £10,000 each. But, so far, out of the 18 Prime Providers, Serco Welfare-to-Work is the only Provider who has been awarded the Standard. (More on Serco’s treatment of asylum seekers here and recent allegations over its NHS services here

The Merlin Standard seems to centre on making things nicey-nicey around supply chains between Prime Providers and subcontractors, with the main principles of the Standard based on Supply Chain Design, Commitment, Conduct and Review.

A4e Fraud

A4e have not been awarded the Merlin Standard, yet. MP Margaret Hodge has asked DWP Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux to investigate all recent allegations of fraud provided by in-house A4e auditors at a recent Public Accounts Committee hearing, and this will most likely take some time to complete. Fraud, particularly ‘systemic’ fraud within A4e, would naturally affect the supply chain and the conduct of the supply chain.

Principle 3 of the Merlin Standard states:

“Excellent supply chains are led and managed with integrity, honesty and transparency and supported by effective processes.”

Principle 3b.6 states the organization must demonstrate:

policies and practices are in place to assure the safeguarding of vulnerable groups supported by the supply chain.”

The ‘Scandal of charities that bully people off benefits’ was recently posted up on the Disabled People Against Cuts blog and is just one example of the lack of safeguards meant to be in place for vulnerable groups. As for “integrity, honesty and transparency”, you’d think A4e would have serious problems gaining accreditation. 

Ideally, and it is a long-shot, it would be great to see A4e kicked off the Work Programme because they failed to get their DWP Workfare-Profiteer Merlin badge. And, although the likelihood is they’ll all get accreditation, one way or another, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on how Prime Provider assessments are progressing and what hurdles they are stumbling over to get accreditation. 

Fingers crossed subcontractors start sqealing on Prime Providers.

Here’s a list of Providers with assessments pending:

A4e - Week commencing 28th May
Avanta - Week commencing 18th June
Business Employment Services Training Ltd (BEST)- Week commencing 18th June
Careers Development Group - Week commencing 28th May
ESG Group - Week commencing 22nd May
EOS/FourstaR - Week commencing 12th June
G4S - Week commencing 11th June
Ingeus UK Ltd - Week commencing 18th June
JHP Group Ltd - Week commencing 28th May
MAXIMUS Employment and Training Ltd - Week commencing 25th June
Newcastle College - Intraining - Week commencing 25th June
Pertemps People Development Group - Week commencing 28th May
Prospects Services Ltd - Week commencing 11th June
Reed in Partnership - Week commencing 18th June
Rehab Jobfit - Week commencing 12th June
Seetec - Week commencing 25th June
Serco - Week commencing 30th April
Working Links - Week commencing 21st May

All information on the Merlin Standard can be accessed via

And here’s the documentation on the Merlin Standard, if you can be fucked.

No comments:

Post a Comment