Four people have been arrested on suspicion of fraud at government contractor A4e, police have confirmed.
The former staff – women aged 28 and 49 and two men, aged 35 and 41 – were held last month and bailed until mid-March.
As part of its work, A4e handles millions of pounds worth of government contracts for welfare-to-work schemes.
The government said it understood the investigation into A4e’s offices in Slough, Berkshire, did not relate to its Work Programme.
Paul Dacre’s lawyers at the Daily Mail obviously have stronger stomachs:
Four people have been arrested in the fraud investigation surrounding David Cameron’s ‘back to work’ tsar Emma Harrison.
Officers carried out dawn raids on the homes of former staff of her employment agency A4e, which receives tens of millions every year in Government contracts.
The two men and two women were questioned on suspicion of cheating taxpayers.
The revelation about last month’s arrests marks a major escalation in the crisis over A4e, which is paid by the Government to help the long-term unemployed find jobs, and prompted fresh calls for the suspension of its contracts.
The company has insisted that police activity had been confined to searches of its offices.
But last night, as a whistleblower made claims contradicting the company’s assertion that the problem involves only a ‘very small number of individuals’, it also emerged:
- Advisers say they were placed under relentless pressure to say they had found the unemployed jobs;
- They say they were paid £50 bounties each time they placed someone in work – but A4e received nearly £2,000;
- Despite the police investigation, A4e could be in line for a share of £126million of new Government contracts.
Private Eye has been firing the shots atA4E for months (though a dedicated blog-site was loading the ammunition). Clearly Thames Valley Constabulary are very slow readers — or Emma Harrison’s little rip-off had some good protection.