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Money Advice Service defends A4e relationship

The Money Advice Service has defended its relationship with A4e, a contracting company which has hit the headlines after it was revealed the police are investigating fraud allegations at the firm.

A4e delivers the MAS’ face-to-face advice service in England and Northern Ireland but MAS says the arrests and allegations are not in any way related to the service it provides.

A4e founder and chairman Emma Harrison, who received an £8.6m dividend in 2010, was forced to step down from her role as Prime Minister David Cameron’s personal adviser on problem families in the wake of the arrests.

Thames Valley Police is investigating the fraud claims which involve four former A4e employees. The allegations are only in relation to A4e’s welfare-to-work contracts.

In a statement issued earlier this week A4e said that between December 2005 to date, nine cases have been referred to the Department of Work and Pensions to review claim submissions. This includes the latest Thames Valley Police case.

The statement from A4e chief executive Andrew Dutton said: “I cannot emphasise enough that there is no place for fraud at A4e, and that is why we have created rigorous internal processes, cooperate with all external audits, and have brought any known issues to the attention of the authorities.”

The MAS says the investigation has no bearing on its face-to-face advice service.

An MAS spokeswoman says: “Our face-to-face service in England and Northern Ireland is contracted to A4e. This is an important aspect of our service, and we keep a close dialogue with A4e at all times about service delivery.

“We are aware of some matters that have recently been raised in the media. These matters do not relate to or affect any aspects of our service delivery.”

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Comments

There are 20 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Could someone please explain what this company actually do for MAS??

  2. Due Diligence due? perhaps we should spare comments until some solid facts are known.

  3. Just part of the gravey train

  4. David, as well as being a welfare to work organisation which receives government funding to get people back to work
    “A4e is delivering face-to-face money advice sessions in England and Northern Ireland on behalf of the Money Advice Service, an independent organisation providing free, unbiased money advice for everyone in the UK.

    Our trained Money Advisers can cover everything from budgeting to saving, credit and borrowing, mortgages, insurance, pensions and retirement planning” this is from their website.. Apparently they pay around £20K to their trained advisers.
    This is what you & I and a lot of others are paying for. This should be funded by government and not by small business.
    Apart from which, can you imagine the outcry, if an adviser used a provider, one arm of which was suspected of fraud?

  5. Jobs for the Boys / Girls. Part of the gravy train using money EXTORTED from advisers. If an IFA or mortgage adviser was found to have committed or been party to fraud, they would have been fined, barred from holding any directorship and possibly imprisioned. Just look at the headlines this week, with brokers (quite rightly) having all these thing applied to them. It makes me sick the double standards applied to us and that literally, cohorts of the FSA get away with this.

  6. A4E are another friend of the none political charity COMMON PURPOSE who run courses for leaders one course is named leading beyond your authority look up http://www.stopgap.com

  7. Money Advice Service is paid for from the likes of me An IFA – I understood that A4e was an organisation that people on Job Seakers allowance were sent to them to get them back to work – I don’t understand how this equates to financial services unless there is a lot of financial advisers out of work who were offering advice whilst getting Job Seakers allowance

  8. Anonymous@ 5.28 and David, A4E are associated with the none political charity COMMON PURPOSE which runs courses like leading beyond your authority for leaders see http://www.Stopcp.com.
    They are subcontracted by the MAS at our expense to employ none qualified advisor’s (who Mas say dont advise) Note above trained Advisors!!! the adverts for none qualified staff are on the A4E website. Yes anonimous they are funded by the tax payer as well and aim to take over from the time served and qualified IFA’s who are put out of business by RDR, leaving their clients without a trusted advisor.
    The whole carrupt organisation need investigating and exposing for what it is, a huge scam. Anonymous please advise me how many (advisers employed at £20,000 + a year) are level 4 qualified??? Amazing that its chief executive alegedly takes dividends of £8 million plus a year in dividents for something (as you say) is funded by government.

  9. So, the financila services industry is funding basically a limited company out to make a profit. This says it all . I do not rtemember this going out to general public tender, otherwise a group of qualified advisers(notice the words used) qualified might well have got together to form a company to tender. After all all the expertise would have been there. What a con

  10. The MAS says the investigation has no bearing on its face-to-face advice service.

    I though MAS was not an advice service….so we pay for the service and their wages for them to contact out advice face to face.

    I think i am going to to call the OFT. this cannot go on.

  11. I would think that A4e would be perfect to give advice on how to make £180 million PROFIT from our hard earned taxes in this continued privatisation of public services. Fraud is the least of it! And using mandatory free labour to man their own offices. Rip-off merchants and spivs.

    For the MAS to say that the “allegations are not related to their service” is disingenuous at best – the whole organisation of A4e is corrupt at its very basis.

    I also wonder when the tax authorities are going to start looking at them, not that they have a very good record of chasing such large, and politically well-connected, companies.

  12. Not a satisfactory state of affairs I should have thought

    Is it unreasonable to think that if A4e are ‘at it’ in terms of the welfare to work programme, then such practices are inherent within the organisation because of its very nature?

    This may not be the case but who exactly awards these contracts and more importantly, who monitors them? Such behind the scenes arrangements with individuals receiving huge payments smacks of croneyism and possibly nepotism.

    It may not prove to stink but it certainly has an unpleasant whiff about it!

  13. So this is another step towards the regulators target of restoring consumer confidence?
    What training/qualifications do these ‘face-to-face’ advisers have to give advice “from budgeting to saving, credit and borrowing, mortgages, insurance, pensions and retirement planning” ?

  14. How much is the contract between MAS and A4E worth?
    Advisers appear to be paying out more and more to fund the “Big Society”
    Are Advisers being robbed to provide funding to multi million pound company’s like A4E

  15. I feel really let down by this story. I did not pass exams to be linked in any way with any organisation that was corrupt, ineffectual and pointles. Oh hang on a minute…… yes I have! Sorry everyone.

  16. So, ignoring the fraud allegations which do not really have a bearing on MAS in my opinion, we are forced to pay for individuals to provide “face-to-face advice” , employed by an organisation which does not provide advice???
    So what happens if, during a meeting with a MAS “adviser”, advice is required which would fall into regulated advice realms? Does the “adviser” stop the meeting at that point & refer onto an IFA?
    If so, perhaps we can have some statistics on how many referals have been made & what the process is for selecting the IFA’s to refer to – over to you MM. FoI request required!

  17. From the A4E website

    Pilot Studies
    “Much work has been done over the last ten years to improve public services but sometimes services don’t reach who they’re supposed to. People fall through the gaps. The customer doesn’t quite get the service they need. They get left behind.

    So we take on new challenges, develop pilots, together with Government, to test new ways of working and solve the hard problems. The social challenges that really hurt.

    We’ve trialled new welfare to work concepts on behalf of DWP; financial inclusion test pilots for HM Treasury & FSA; and, cutting edge legal aid service reforms with the Legal Services Commission.

    The way we innovate extends to our international programmes too, where we’re helping families as a whole find work in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

    We don’t wait for Government though to commission pilot programmes; we also advise them where, when & how they can improve value for money & service outcomes based upon our own experiences.

    For A4e, pilots matter. They are the public services of tomorrow”
    .
    A4E are indeed linked to Common Purpose “we dont wait for Governments” certainly looks like they are “leading beyond authority”
    .
    A4E piloted the MAS for the FSA. They then tendered for the contract and won.
    Whole thing stinks and requires some clever journalism to blow the whole thing wide open.

  18. The most troubling aspect for me of this information is that the Financial Services Industry are effectively contributing to the £8.6 million dividend that Emma Harrison has paid herself, through our industry levies for the MAS service (quite apart from whether or not anyone actually agrees with the MAS in the first place). One might have thought that A4E had a moral purpose to assist the unemployed back into work, and the financially uneducated into some form of understanding, when it reality they are clearly set up to milk the system for the benefit of their shareholders.

    It seems to me that all their revenue either comes directly from Government, or from IFAs like us, who have no say in the matter.

    Well FSA, I object most vehemently to you giving my money (yes my money!) to companies such as this. And that’s without even getting into the subject of the fraud referred to in this article.!!!!!!!!

  19. So MAS, which does not provide advice, employs “advisers” to give face-to-face “advice”.
    Say in the process of providing this “advice” the “adviser” is called upon to stray into the realms to regulated advice.
    If they are then unable to give this advice, presumably they have to refer to a suitably qualified IFA?
    If so, can we have some statistics of how many referals they have made & how they select the IFA’s to refer to – over to you MM for a FOI request

  20. Rod@7.14
    Not sure the “trained Advisers” are qualified at all.
    I believe they are taught to use a script.
    What all this really boils down to is we,as advisers, are FORCED to contribute to A4E and their multi million pound industry, in order that they can employ people to replace us.
    Any Adviser refusing to pay the levy would be closed down and deemed “not fit and proper” by the regulator. This country is beginning to look more like North Korea ot communist China by the minute. It is also disgusting that this company is making so much money from not only taxpayers but small business as well.
    Perhaps when the FSA have finished with us we can approach A4E asking for help to find work. They will not be able to stop our benefits as most of us being self employed do not qualify for any.

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