LONDON, February 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
In response to reports of allegations of fraud in the welfare to work industry, Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), said:
"ERSA is aware of the recent reports of fraud relating to a provider within the welfare to work industry. This is an isolated incident which relates to a small number of former employees, who worked for an organisation with a workforce of over 3,500. The matter is being handled by Thames Valley Police, so we cannot comment further on this case.
"Incidents of this nature remain exceptional across the industry and we have confidence in the internal and external audit systems in place amongst providers, whether prime contractors or subcontractors. We also encourage transparency on the part of any organisation to alert the authorities when an incident occurs, and we are confident that this has been happening.
"ERSA members are committed to delivering high standards in the delivery of welfare to work services to all customers and are working with industry partners toroll-out training and qualifications for industry professionals.
"It is important to note that any paper-based system is open to misuse across the industry, which is why we welcome the Work Programme because it operates through an electronic system and is paid on results.
"The reporting of these isolated incidents must not detract from the great work providers across the industry are doing every day, in helping thousands of long-term unemployed people back into work."
Notes to Editors
1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the trade association for the welfare to work industry. Established in 2005, for the industry by the industry, it exists to help its members achieve their shared goal: to help people achieve and sustain employment.
2. ERSA's membership is as diverse as the welfare to work industry itself. Its members deliver a wide range of government-commissioned welfare to work programmes,including the Work Programme, Work Choice, Mandatory Work Activity and ESF Families, plus other employment-related services.
3. ERSA represents 95 percent of Work Programme and Work Choice prime contractors, plus a larger number of subcontractors. ERSA's members are drawn almost equally from the private and voluntary sectors, with a small number of public sector organisations also in membership. It is the diversity of its membership that gives ERSA its strength to speak as the authoritative voice of the sector.