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Ministers were caught in a storm of criticism yesterday after handing the lion’s share of a new programme supposed to get the long-term unemployed into work to security firm G4S while it’s under investigation for fraud.
The Help to Work scheme aims to force people into jobs by threatening to dock their benefits if they refuse to take part.
Those who have been on the government’s existing work programme for more than two years will have to undergo intensive coaching, meet a jobs adviser every day or do community work for up to six months provided by privateers.
But anti-workfare campaigners expressed outrage that G4S, which is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over the running of facilities for British courts, was awarded responsibility for providing community work in six out of 18 regions across Britain.
That’s more than any other company in the £300 million contract — even though G4S has already been ordered to pay more than £100m last month for charging the government for tagging criminals who were already dead or in jail.
The National Coalition for Independent Action’s Andy Benson said: “Having failed thousands of unemployed people in the work programme, and been caught with their fingers in the till by overcharging on tagging contracts, it comes as no surprise that once again G4S comes out as the government’s favourite contractor.
“While G4S laughs all the way to the bank, the losers, of course, will once again the long term unemployed.”
A DWP spokesman said: “All contracts have been awarded after open and fair competition.”
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