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Open letter to Avanta, Work Programme

A4E placards

Work Programme: proving there’s money to be made out of the unemployed, but none for the unemployed themselves. Photo: Howard Jones

Another week, another admission from politicians that the government’s Work Programme is failing (but obviously without any moves to bring it to an end). This open letter of complaint highlights just how useless the Work Programme really is, and concludes “I think the only solution to my complaints is for your company (and the Work Programme in general) to cease to exist.” For more stories of people’s experiences, read the comments on the blog where this letter was originally posted.

To whom it may concern

I am writing to lodge a formal complaint against Avanta. I do not wish to target any individual branch or person in my complaint but, rather, your organisation as a whole. My reasons for this are that I believe any branches or individuals are only acting in the interests of your company and their actions are a reflection of what is expected of them.

I will state, however, that my branch is the [removed] branch – but I’m fully aware my complaints are not limited to this one branch.

I am extremely dis-satisfied with what is supposed to be a service intended to help myself, and other jobseekers, back into work. There is nothing about Avanta which proves to me that Avanta are interested in anything more than filling their own pockets.

My complaints are as follows, and in no particular chronological order:

1. Supplying incorrect information regarding appointments – dates and/or times – then logging down lack of attendance resulting from this.

2. Subjecting jobseekers to meaningless introductory assessments. The online career finder is without purpose and highly flawed in it’s execution.

3. Recording information on the system stating that the adviser has helped in an area they have not. In my case, it was noted down that the adviser had helped me with my CV when this was not the case. I already had a complete CV.

4. Monthly adviser appointments which are merely a repeat of the last appointment. Same useless conversation, quick job search then sent on my way.

5. Being told one thing then having it retracted/changed. In one instance I was told an activity was optional, then mandated to do it when I showed no interest.

6. Threats of sanctions for any disagreement. E.g. see number 5. I was threatened with a sanction simply for complaining about this to my adviser.

7. Obvious tricks used to ‘pretend’ the company is doing more than it actually is. E.g. giving everybody the same appointment time then making people wait for over an hour while seen individually – to have the exact same conversation on an indivudal basis (when it could have been done in a 10 minute group)

8. Setting “Back to Work” deadline dates then blaming me, the jobseeker, for not having a job by this date. This makes no sense.

9. Advisers using phrases such as “We need to get you into a job or else we don’t get paid”

10. Requiring the Jobseeker to attend “supervised job search” sessions. I do not need to be supervised. I can do this at home, without your company being paid for my attendance. The job centre are happy with my job search activity – your company has no place in supervising it. Furthermore, there are privacy issues concerning the use of publicly accessible computer systems. And again, threatened with sanctions for raising these issues.

11. Pre Employment Training course. I was told what this entailed. It sounds exactly like every other useless course of it’s type. Basically it’s just an excuse to look like you’re doing something to earn your money. In reality, many jobseekers do not need this course or have done the same course in the past (albeit, under a different guise)

12. Staff openly talking about being terminated and/or resigning, in front of jobseekers.

13. Staff openly mocking/complaining about the company, Avanta, in front of jobseekers. While I share their views, I also note the lack of professionalism in doing so.

14. Staff have limited I.T. skills – to the point I’ve had to instruct both my advisers (previous and current) on how to use their system properly. The alternative being to watch them struggle to execute the simplest task because they don’t know how.

The list does go on, but I think this will do for now.

My complaints are those specifics (and more), but in general it is simply that your company, Avanta, are nothing more than a useless burden upon the jobseeker. Avanta have, in no way, provided me with any help towards achieving employment, and I am constantly witnessing problems like the ones listed. Avanta are nothing more than a highly inefficient, ineffective waste of time and money for everyone concerned.

I have no suggestions on how to improve this. I believe my list is a result of staff attempting to do their best to justify why this company exists, and failing so hard because they cannot. It is clear that your company can not help in the battle against unemployment for 2 main reasons:

1. Avanta does not create more jobs. Avanta merely aims to put the unemployed into existing jobs, which would be taken by someone else anyway. So you’re just changing WHO is left unemployed.

2. Avanta are entirely ineffective at achieving the latter part of point number 1 anyway, so even the one thing Avanta CAN do… it doesn’t.

I do not limit this to your company either. This goes for all companies similar to Avanta, under the Work Programme. If I were sent to a different company, they’d receive the same letter.

I think the only solution to my complaints is for your company (and the Work Programme in general) to cease to exist. I am starting my complaint with yourselves, as that is the complaints procedure which I must go through.

I look forward to your response on this matter. Please do not take my comments personally. I understand Avanta is out to profit like most other companies. I just disagree with the manner in which it does it, and how I’m forced to be a pawn in that game.

Yours Faithfully

Paul

Comments

Comments (22)

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HomerJS

I'm with Avanta, and I totally agree with everything Paul has said. Although I must admit to being a bit jealous because Paul appears to have had much more of a service than I have. I put in a complaint too, but gave up after they just ignored me and left me alone for several months. That's because I was quite happy to be left to get on with my job search without any involvement from Avanta. It is just about getting public money into private hands.

Open letter to Avanta, Work Programme – Boycott Workfare | Job Offers

[...] See the rest here: Open letter to Avanta, Work Programme – Boycott Workfare [...]

Paul

Thanks for the reblog :)

It's been exactly a year since I first published that to Wordpress, but it's all still relevant - as the comments and views of others can attest to.

Nothing has improved, as expected.

Just like HomerJS, I have pretty much been parked and ignored since I submitted this complaint - which I also welcomed. It kind of felt like that's exactly what they wanted; for me to stay quiet.

Now the Programme is out of the spotlight somewhat, but it still continues on as useless as ever.

Vivienne

I totally agree with Paul. Avanta keep sending me on courses on how to look for work, all under different titles but exactly the same outcome. They also threatened to contact the Job Centre to have my benefits suspended when I asked to re arrange an appointment as my two sons were very poorly, off of School. I had to leave them and attend the appointment ! I am to travel and do this same course yet again this week ! I do however have an Interview today, this would be the answer to my prayers if I am lucky enough to get the Job. Avanta have only weakened my Spirits, it seems once you are unemployed the Job Centre own your life !

Jj

No need to be specific here. All of the primes are poor.
But then again they aren't designed to be effective, either via their operation or through feasible labour market engagement.
My former provider, Ingeus UK, were especially poor, often calling me into their office to show me an email with a vacancy in it or to show them a separate copy of my jobsearch activity, sometimes within days of me signing on and satisfying the Jobcentre Plus with the same information.
So yes, a lot of what they do is tedious, pointless hoop-jumping, box-ticking, and essentially fulfilling their true purposes of (a) stifling the unemployed, and (b) uprating the sanctions frequency.
I feel a great swell of sympathy for anybody still in this shambles of a system.
I fortunately managed to secure a job without Ingeus' help so they got paid diddly squat. Naturally they harrass me to this day with appointments, texts and phone calls but I'll give them a nice legal block to run into should they ignore my second warning.

anya

Totally agree....I had an advisor last year who would actually go into my email while I was there looking at my sent job applications. While I was happy for him to see that I was applying for work, I would have preferred to find the relevant emails for him myself without him trawling ithrough my sent emails list. My ex husband had just died and there were many personal emails! My most recent advisor seemed helpful at first and impressed with my job searching activities. However, I had to cancel an appointment because my son fractured his leg and was off school. I offered to reschedule but was told it was best to have a telephone appointment. I was willing to do this but had to be at the hospital at the time the advisor suggested. When I was free I phoned him, but he was unavailable. When he phoned me back, I was in a discussion with a doctor and couldn't speak. I was told I had to speak to him or would face sanctions and letters. The advisor seemed really stressed about meeting his targets and dotting the i's and crossing the 't's'. He left me about three messages on my home phone and mobile. I phoned him again later in the day at 4pm and he had left the office. Not my fault he leaves early, sorry. Haven't heard back and am now anticipating a letter either from him or from the jobcentre...this has put an additional burden on me and I feel like a criminal. Where is the humanity in all this? Its not like I can't show my job searches or am sitting around doing nothing. Its made me feel rubbish and anxious. I understand they have a job to do, but I felt really hounded and stressed. In a climate where so much focuses on 'human rights', what has happened here! The job centre are happy with my activities, so what gives these people the right to threaten sanctions and letters at the slightest 'misdemeanor'...one missed appointment in my case, which I was more than willing to reschedule. And my kid was sick! Obsessed with looking like they do something and covering their own backs!

evan

This is because it is bullshit cooked up by the government. It is devised by those that specialise in interrogation techniques. The jobcentre says they're happy while the work programme aren't. They are a scapegoat to pressure people into taking anything going just to escape the hell, that may be even p/t work, or failing that to sanction people. It's two horns of the same beast, Satan that is the government.

wendy hicks

I too am at loggerheads with Avanta as they told my grandson on monday he had a job starting Thursday. He was over the moon being as he has been unemployed since leaving school and he is now 19 only to get a phone call from them Wednesday 6.30pm don't bother going it has been filled

kendra

avanta are crooks hell bent on sanctionin people i wouldnt be suprised if they got a bonus for the most sanctions dished out iv recently been on a course and every morning two come and see who s not turned in so they can sanction them they make you feel like a criminal they act like police and there un qualified lazy and deviod off social skills call you customers there a joke

Gwen Frimston

Avanta Chatham Kent

I was sent on this employment course and the tutor Sheila Morling was very unhelpful and made us fill out a large folder full of paperwork which had no relevance to finding work.

At the end of the course I was so stressed out and upset that I lost weight and became depressed.

just me

going there 6 months one lad their just trys it on with all the girls its open plan office so you can hear every word they say they just muck about last time i went 2 job coaches just stood in the window making sleazy comments about some workmen on the roof im lost for words .

mick

Another Varied Afternoon Notifying The Agencies THIS is the only way i can explain my time at AVANTA perfect acronym.

Mr me

I've been attending avanta for 2 years now and i have to say it is the WORST service going.They have a staff member who is hell bent on sanctioning.

Howie

Totally agree with all comments. My benefit was changed because of sickness (cancer) and the Job Centre wrote and said that I no longer have to use the work program. Avanta refuse to stop contacting me even though I have told them that I am no longer required to report to them and don't want to waste any time I have remaining on the planet attending their pointless appointments! The whole point here is that the Job Centres are perfectly capable of carrying out what Avanta do, and did do for some considerable time before the so-called government decided to bring in Avanta. A total waste of taxpayers money (of which I am still one). I wonder if anyone has yet brought a case of harassment againt them, because that is basically what they do. They are so unprofessional that they don't even put a contact phone number on their letters, I had to look it up on Google when they wrote to me today telling me I was to attend a work programme appointment. They had already agreed that I don't have to attend anymore appointments. The letter also said they would pay any travel expences. I was in half a mind to hire a limo and attend! I was also told that they would continue to contact me "to make sure I was OK" - more like to claim more taxpayers money. Liars, con-men, theives. Fagin would be proud of them!

Amelia

I totally agree with Paul, avanta in canterbury are absolutley useless! They book me on for job searches twice a week, when i look every day at home on my own computer, whilst they sit there doing absolutley nothing, eating their lunch at their computers talking about the weekend. They don't help you with anything, they've kept me there for 2 hours doing a job search (there's so many jobs you can apply for if you haven't already) they don't get that I may want to actually go round into shops handing in cvs etc instead of wasting my time in their stupid office. I receive letters saying I didn't attend my last appointment/job search when I did, and then they go ahead and get me sanctioned when it's their own fault. Even when I stopped signing on they still continued to contact me, just goes to show that they pay no attention as they would have taken me off their system. Something should be done about the way they treat people.

Phillip Hurrell

Hiya. Glad to see it's not just me and my fiancee who are having problems with the bunch of jokers that call themselves Avanta!

I was with Groundworks North East who are sub-contracted by Avanta. Correspondence I received from them was diabolical! Spelling mistakes, poor grammar etc.

My fiancee is with Avanta in Darlington and once again the same thing. Spelling, grammar, lack of proof reading of documents, poor business skills.

The manager a Mr Jon Cooke can't even lay out a professional letter. It addressed my fiancee by her first name and was signed of with 'Regards'. Fine when writing to a personal friend, not so fine when writing to a client!

Complaints seem to fall on deaf ears due to the fact that Avanta staff seem to think they are brilliant! In actual fact a lot of the clients they see are actually far better qualified than the staff working there!

gareth

Avanta Chatham contantley being harrased by phone calls and appointments done same course twice waste of time forwarding cv to everyone

gareth

Hi went to avanta today my job coach wants me to go today and walk through the high street with her and go in to shops to get application forms for jobs got to do that 1_3 she said I will find you a job think they try and thob you off with anything if they get you in work they Probly get a bonus that's avanta Chatham

Caroline

I was called to the work programme,working links in Glasgow just as the school summer holidays had started. I asked the jobcentre and the work programme if my attendance could be postponed until after the summer holidays, they both said no, but refused to pay childcare. I was told my son was not allowed to attend as they are not insured for him to be there. This may be because they also help ex offenders including child sex offenders. At first I refused to attend under such circumstances, but both the job centre and the work programme threatened me with sanctions and constantly bombarded me by text, phone calls and letters. Reluctantly I had no choice, it was take my son or starve. What infuriated me so much was after I was forced to do this what a waste of time It has been. I was only offered a slave labour job at Marks and Spencer. They tried to put pressure on me, but I refused. I told them I wanted to start up my own business, they didn't have a clue and sent me to business gateway who can't help because I'm on the WP. I asked for funding of £1000 to set up a website, they said no but I was told by advisor I could have £600. They have now renaged on this and the offer is now £100. They have told me to apply for funding elsewhere and have sent me round in circles, because none of their suggested options could help me. I had to do all the work myself and I am now going to have to borrow money and start up by myself. I am so angry that they will be paid for doing me more harm than good because of how much they have held me up and wasted my time. I also found out they received £400 when they signed me up £1200 when I start work and by "attaching" themselves to me receive a further £5000 in 52 weeks time if I am still employed. The tax payer isn't happy about paying benefits to people like us who have fallen on hard times, but it would actually work out cheaper for them if we sat back and did sod all. The work programme is taking the for a ride not us. At least keeping us fed and clothed is value for money.

Caroline

Just wanted to add. Not sure if you are all aware, but the workfare employers don't just get free labour but they are also paid. I know of someone in the past few weeks who was forced by work programme provider to work for 4 weeks mandatory activity. He asked the employer if he got paid for taking him on and the employer was honest and told him he got £200 a week. Everyone is making money apart from the jobseeker and the tax payer is being shafted.

Name (required)

I did avanta n it was load of rubbish got sent 2 learn direct in duinkfield n got told I don't need help applying for jobs advisor I had was useless Neva helped at all she was always scantioning me cz I phoned up n used can't cum 2day am having a tooth out n she booked an appointment n then she cancelled it cz she weren't in so got scantioned for that aswel silly cow she was

Mr Ken

I'm with avanta, and have to do job search's for around 2 hours twice a week. I an do a better job search at home. On their public computers a lot of sites are blocked and can't be accessed is YouTube to find out about companies, Google drive to save my files, and many more useless. My job coach is lazy like the others talking about the weekend and what to have for lunch, then gaze out of the window probably thinking who to report for sanctioning! I did find job vacancies at avanta for work coaches and was shocked by the salary starting at £22,000 up to £27,000 for 9-5 job 5 days week!