Police probe training firm fraud claims

a4eBS''Emma Harrison, boss at A4e at the premises at Queens House, Queens Street, Sheffield
a4eBS''Emma Harrison, boss at A4e at the premises at Queens House, Queens Street, Sheffield
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SHEFFIELD training company A4e, which operates the Government’s welfare-to-work contracts, has been embroiled in fresh controversy – after police launched an investigation into claims of fraud at one if its offices.

Thames Valley Police visited the offices of A4e in Slough, Berkshire, over the claims on Friday.

The company said the probe concerned a ‘very small’ number of former employees – and that it had called the officers in.

But Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “I think the Government should certainly consider suspending them. It is of great concern that any such investigation is necessary.”

The company is chaired by Sheffield businesswoman Emma Harrison, who was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 to help get troubled families into work.

Its five shareholders were paid £11 million in dividends last year, of which Ms Harrison received more than £8m.

Andrew Dutton, A4e group chief executive, said: “A4e has zero tolerance towards fraud, and any instance of fraudulent or otherwise illegal activity is completely unacceptable. We take our responsibility very seriously, and we are committed to using taxpayer’s money effectively and efficiently.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are unable to comment on any investigation but understand these are not matters that relate to the Work Programme.”